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How Sick is “too sick?”


I am frequently asked whether a parent  must allow visitation or alternate periods of placement if their child is sick. While there is no clear legal answer to that question or problem, I would think that common sense prevails.

If the child is running a fever or vomiting, or is already under a doctor’s instruction to stay home, the other parent needs to understand that the child is too sick to visit and come out of the home and instead, a make up date should be planned when the child feels better. If the child was kept home from school for similar reasons (assuming the child is school age), likewise, the other parent should not be angry if the  child cannot visit.

If there has been a pattern and practice of denial from the other parent, of course, the parent who does not have primary or equal placement is going to be suspicious of the motivation from the parent who claims “the child is too sick to visit.” It should not be a pattern and practice. Custody and placement orders are orders of the court and subject to contempt where there is an intentional and willful disregard of the court orders. You cannot keep your child home just because the child may have a runny nose or slight cough. That wouldn’t probably be enough to keep the child home from school either, depending on how severe the cold may be. But,  as stated above, if the child is running a fever, has the chills, is vomiting, or has already been seen by a physician for the illness and the doctor has recommended the child should stay home, then, the child should stay home. The parent who is missing out on the visits shouldn’t get angry at their ex spouse or the child for missing the visit. The visits or placement time can be made up when the child feels better.

Try to look at things from the child’s perspective. If the child is sick in laying in bed, the child shouldn’t be forced to go to have a visit, simply because the other parent is angry about it. It is immature and doesn’t respect “the best interests of the child.” Use common sense. There will be plenty of other days to spend with the child when the child is better.  Don’t force the child to come and visit with you if the child is sick to it’s stomach or running a fever. Things will be better in a few days and you both can resume your normal placement schedule.

If you have questions on custody or placement in the state of Wisconsin, contact the experienced family lawyers at  Karp & Iancu, S.C. today for a free initial consultation.

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