Jury duty is an important part of being an American citizen; you’re helping to give your peers a fair trial. While it’s often associated with negative feelings of inconvenience, jurors are critical to the legal process. Being summoned can cause some issues in the best of situations, so what happens when you’re a single parent?

Do I Really Have To?

Jury duty can certainly be an adventure, but, in most cases, your attendance is required. Typically, many jurors are pooled together, but only a fraction of those individuals are chosen to sit through the trial. You, like other potential jury members, will have to qualify before you’re able to move forward. Certain factors, such as age, literacy, student status and health, can disqualify individuals from being selected. In some jurisdictions, you can voluntarily remove yourself from qualification if you are caring for a child under ten or for a disabled person. Showing up for jury duty is a mandatory civic duty, so jurors are typically paid for their time. A jury summons is an official court order that carries consequences for disregarding it. In the most serious situations, a judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. There can also be monetary fines.

Arranging Childcare

Single parents will have to make arrangements for childcare during the jury duty process. It’s a good idea to go ahead and make a plan. When you’re choosing your sitter, you’ll have to consider time frames for the trial. Some jurors may only be in action for a few hours, but some trials run days or weeks long; always make your childcare worker aware. As a parent, you’re the only one that can make the right decision for child care, but it’s important to have interviews for potential sitters.

Taking Time Off From Work

Since jury duty is a federal requirement, employers recognize your summons as an excused absence. When you receive your notice, be sure to let your boss know as soon as you have a date. Some workplaces provide employees with a paid day for their service, but others may not. Alternatively, you could use your own paid time off. Regardless of your situation, it’s crucial to inform your workplace of your upcoming civic duty.

Jury duty can seem like a daunting task, but it’s really an honor to help your fellow citizens. As a single parent, it can seem inconvenient, but if you’re making arrangements ahead of time, you should be just fine.

Being a single parent who is summoned for jury duty can be stressful. If you’re struggling with stress as a single parent, read more about how holistic healing might be able to help you!