It may not be part of the parenting plan but at some point, parents will have to deal visitation or custody changes when either a child or parents gets sick. In general, it is helpful for parents to discuss how illness or other last-minute changes can be accommodated in parenting plans before it comes up. But most often, the illness involves making a last-minute call to the other parent to discuss how to handle an upcoming visit.
Common Cold and Minor Sickness
The common cold, stomach bug, or other minor ailment is not generally enough to justify denying parenting time. Each parent can care for their child and caring for a sick child is a normal part of parenting. Children also appreciate having a parent there to care for them and make them feel better when they’re feeling down.
Of course, each situation is different, and parents should determine what is best for their child. Many children have fond memories of staying home from school while a parent bundles them up on the couch to watch TV and serve up a bowl of hot soup. A sick child may just want to sleep or stay home. Alternatively, a change of scenery could be beneficial for a child who is feeling sick.
When the Parents Get Sick
When adults get sick, many try and power through it with some cold medicine and a box of tissues. Many people don’t even take a sick day off of work. However, when it comes to spending time with your kids, you may want to consider a raincheck.
Even if a cold seems minor, it may affect children differently than adults. Giving your child a cold, flu, or COVID-19 can be more serious. They may have to stay home from school, which means a parent or other family member has to stay home with the child. If you feel a cold coming on and have an upcoming visit, consider talking to the other parent about rescheduling the visit to avoid getting your child sick as well.
Is Your Child Really Sick?
Unfortunately, some custodial parents may try to deny visits by claiming the child is sick when the child is healthy and doing well. It may be helpful for parents to have an agreement for when sickness would justify canceling parenting time. This could be similar to a school sickness policy. For example, if the child is healthy enough to go to school, then the child should be well enough to visit their parent. A legitimate sickness may be a reason to cancel a visit, but the child’s health and well-being are a concern for both parents.