Frequently in an intact family, one spouse has a more flexible job (or works from home) and is the “go-to” parent if the dreaded call comes that Maddie has a fever and has to be picked up from school. That parent then usually takes Maddie to the doctor and stays with her until she is able to return to school. But what happens when co-parents are no longer together?
If one parent has a more flexible job and/or the ability to work from home and is okay continuing to be the “go-to” parent if a child is sick, then he or she should continue to do so. But if not, then parents should perhaps take turns staying home. Parents may elect to insert language in their settlement agreements detailing when exactly their parenting time begins on a given day. For example, Dad’s time does not begin until 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday, so if the child is ill that day, Mom must stay home that day because it’s still her parenting time. Should the child be out sick again on Wednesday, Dad would be staying home that day. This careful language can avoid putting all of the responsibility and work absenteeism on one parent.
However, what if the child is sick and either doesn’t want to leave the house for parenting time, or you don’t think the child should be out and about? If the child has been to the doctor, ask the doctor what his or her recommendation would be. If the child simply has a cold, he can still have parenting time with the other parent. But if the child is actively vomiting, feverish or recovering from surgery, remaining in one place may be the best and most practical option. But remember: the decision whether to have parenting time due to illness is not the child’s decision. It should be made after discussion between both parents as to the level of the child’s illness, and presuming that both parents are capable and able to monitor the child’s health and provide all medications and treatment as the doctor has prescribed.