At the time of this writing on August 30, Hurricane Dorian is approaching South Florida and Gov. DeSantis has declared a statewide emergency. In Fort Lauderdale, people are busy preparing for potentially dangerous conditions. At the above link, the city website is providing updates and directions to area residents. We send our support and concern out to our clients and the greater community of which our law firm is a part.
What does my divorce say about parenting time in a disaster?
If you have a parenting plan that determines how you and the other parent are to share time with your children, it may not be possible to both comply with the visitation schedule and keep everyone safe in case of dangerous weather. Is there an emergency provision in the parenting plan for exceptions to usual arrangements in case of natural disasters?
For example, it may be impossible to safely drive the children to the other parent if it is their time to be with the children, or you may need to evacuate with the children to avoid emergency weather conditions.
Your parenting plan may include provisions for what to do when disaster or emergency hits and interrupts the possibility of keeping to the usual schedule. For example, your agreement may provide that when an emergency means that it is in the children’s best interest to take steps to keep them safe rather than comply with the parenting time schedule, that the parent who has the kids should take whatever action is in the children’s best interests. For example, it may be advisable to shelter in place or evacuate.
Of course, ideally the plan would include steps to take to keep in touch with the other parent, so they do not worry or take action that may be dangerous to check on the children’s safety. Whether it does or not, it is smart for both parents in an emergency to communicate regularly and to reach an understanding of what actions will be taken in case communication is interrupted.
(Should your plan not include these kinds of provisions, after the disaster talk to a lawyer about modifying the plan.)
Even if your plan does not include agreement about what steps to take in case of an emergency, of course keeping your children safe is the foremost concern. If you can do so while informing the other parent of your plans, that would be smart. Otherwise, try to get in touch with them as soon as possible. Everyone involved will likely be stressed and worried, so communication can be key.
Most importantly, keep yourself and your children safe. Then, get legal advice about deficiencies your parenting plan may have when it comes to disaster planning.