If you are like me, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed your life in many ways, including limiting your time with friends and family, the work place landscape has drastically changed, your outings to the store have taken on a new level of concern and you are taking extra precautions once you return home, especially if you have someone in your home with an underlying condition. Our vocabulary has shifted, we now use words like “essential” and “pandemic” in our everyday conversations. We have become numb to the ever-increasing deaths that are occurring in our country even as we exceed 80 thousand deaths. We struggle with the balance of reopening our state and our country with saving lives. These are not conversations any of us thought we would be having a year ago.
Yet even in the midst of all of that bad news, I think that we all breathed a sigh of relief when we thought that our children were relatively safe. As a parent, I know that fact gave me some comfort, though at our house, we never really let our guard down. We still take precautions to minimize exposure to ourselves and our son. Now we are facing a new danger in the midst of this pandemic. Pediatric Multi-Symptom Inflammatory Syndrome. Sounds scary, right? This is a news story that I have been following closely as it evolves each day. There is still so much we do not know about it and if we know one thing, it is that we do not know enough.
I am not a medical expert. I am a mom, a family law lawyer and avid reader of all things news related. That’s it. So this video and blog are not coming to you to offer medical advice or even parenting advice. I am only here to offer you information and insight into the current status of the laws in light of this pandemic.
We have done videos before on COVID-19 and custody exchanges. Nothing has changed with this new strain or impact of the virus. The courts still expect you to abide by the custody Orders that are established in your cases.
I feel it is important that we address the concerns and to do so, we need to talk about the illness first. Remember, I am not a medical expert but I did my best to gather as much information about this as I could before I started to write this blog. I expect that the information will be updated and changed and we will try to update the content here as we see those changes.
First, we should talk about what Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome is and where the experts are seeing it. The majority of cases in the USA are in New York, though I imagine none of us are surprised by this since NY has been the epicenter of the pandemic. As I write this blog there have been 93 cases in NY (38 of which are in New York City are confirmed with dozens more being investigated) with three (3) known deaths; two more deaths are under investigation. The people affected by this illness are children who range from toddlers to teens. The illness has been shown in kids who have either tested negative for the virus, but have antibodies (meaning they have had the virus, even just as a carrier) or kids that are currently infected with the virus. It appears that Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome shows up weeks after exposure to COVID-19, even further beyond the 14-day quarantine period we have been told for COVID-19 exposure before symptoms begin showing. Some of the symptoms that have been documented are:
- High fever lasting longer than five (5) days
- Difficulty breathing
- Change in skin tone (pale skin, lips or fingers)
- Chest Pains
Unlike COVID-19, perhaps the scariest part of this illness, is that it does not appear to differentiate between kids with underlying health conditions an those that are healthy, at least as far as we know. Though children with an underlying health condition have more severe symptoms.
There have been many cases in Europe as well and the illness is being monitored. As parents, that is all we can do as well. We must pay attention to our kids, their health, limit their exposure and do everything we can to keep them safe at home.
Now – lets move more into what this means for custody and custodial exchanges. As I said, the Court here in our Judicial District, and across the state, have made their position clear. COVID-19 is not an excuse to deny visitation or custody in violation of a court order. If there is a court order that requires custodial exchanges, those exchanges must continue. The Court expects that both parents will take all the necessary steps to protect their kids from this virus. Though I do expect there to be a line of cases that are heard when the court reopens where one parent did not take the necessary precautions and did not act in their children’s best interests. This is not the time to take unnecessary risks with your kids. I understand that our kids are tired of being in the house, they are tired of not seeing their friends, they are bored, they miss school (who would have thought that would be the case!), but as parents, it is our job to protect them, even from themselves.
Parents – talk to your co-parent. Have procedures in place to limit exposure. If you can, don’t take your kids to the store with you. Share responsibilities and ideas to keep them entertained. Now is your time to shine as a co-parent! Moms, if you are worried about Dad taking the kids to the store for groceries, offer to watch them for a couple hours while he shops. Dad’s if you’re worried about the kids going to daycare while Mom works, offer to help out when you are able. No judgments. No make up time. Just good solid parenting while keeping the kids’ best interest at the forefront of your minds.
As we learn more about Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome Potentially Associated with COVID-19, we will update our blog.
In the meantime, stay safe and healthy everyone!
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