Coronavirus, College Kids and Quarantine
It was that magical part of the night when your children are in bed and you finally get to relax with a cup of tea – okay, let’s be honest, a glass of wine. I took out my phone to catch up on texts. A COVID-19 case was reported in my son’s grade at school, so I had a lot of texts. Home for the holidays certainly has taken on new meaning.
I was texting with a friend, Sarah, whose daughter is in the same school. We started chatting about her employer and their COVID-19 policies. Her company implemented a policy that employees who traveled outside of the state for the holidays had to quarantine and take 2 weeks of vacation time once they returned. She then told me that if employees have children who attend college out-of-state, these employees also had to quarantine and take 2 weeks of vacation when their children came home for the holidays.
This policy upset Sarah because her long-time colleague had struggled and fought with her ex-husband about whether their son would go away to college for his freshman year. He went away and now she did not know what to do. She was counting down the days until her son returned home for winter break, until she learned of this policy. She could not tell her son that he was not welcome home. She resigned herself that she had to waste her vacation time. But what if she did not have any vacation time? It is the end of the year, after all. She couldn’t take unpaid time-off because she is still catching up on bills from when she was furloughed earlier in the year.
This news prevented me from enjoying that magical part of the night and my glass of wine or, possibly my second glass. Many of my clients have college-age children. Navigating college-details these last 6 months has resulted in a lot of sleepless nights for them and me. Some parents do not want their children going away for college in the middle of a pandemic, while others do not want their children to miss out on this experience. There is no right answer, each family and each child are different.
If this is the policy of Sarah’s company, which is a large, international company, other companies are probably implementing a similar policy. If you are in this situation you have a few options. Your child could spend the first 2 weeks with your co-parent or another family member. This will require some communication with your co-parent (for some of you, I apologize in advance). If you receive child support and your co-parent brings this up, tell them it is only for 2 weeks and your holiday present to them is that they get these 2 weeks with your son that you so desperately want. Under the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, a temporary change is not sufficient to modify child support. Modification of child support is appropriate when there has been a “change in circumstances.” Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139 (1980). Another option is for your child could also spend one week with your co-parent and you take off the second week to be with them. Your third option is to take 2 weeks’ vacation time if you have it.
Melissa Knoerzer, Esq. is a family law attorney representing clients throughout New Jersey. Melissa recognizes each case is unique and works diligently to see that each client’s circumstances are thoughtfully and practically addressed. If you need help managing how the coronavirus is impacting custody, parenting time, child support, or any other issues relating to your children, please reach out to Melissa. As a parent navigating these uncertain times along side you, she is happy to lend her expertise to help another parent.