A Guide to Child Custody and Visitation during the Coronavirus Pandemic

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When you are divorced or separated and have a child custody arrangement, you may not have the ability to abide by that arrangement because of the coronavirus pandemic. These are trying times for all families, and it might be difficult for you to deal with a custody agreement that does not account for sheltering in place. Use these tips to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and your child custody agreement at the same time.

The Child Custody and Parenting Plan Is Public Record

Family Attorney - Michael Henderson

Whether you like it or not, the child custody agreement you signed is a matter of public record. You are bound to abide by this agreement whenever possible. This means that you need to consider every word of the plan and try to work around the language of the plan as much as possible. You do not need to hire a lawyer unless you think there will be a problem with your ex, or they are not thinking rationally about the situation.

Sit Down and Talk to Your Child

If your child is old enough to understand the implications of the coronavirus pandemic, they also understand why they cannot travel as they normally would see their other parent. You need your child to understand that you are taking steps to help them see your ex, but you must do what you believe is best. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the visitation schedule might not be ideal for anyone.

Is Your Ex Flexible?

If you are lucky enough to co-parent your child with an ex who is flexible and understanding, it will be simple to adjust your custody arrangement to suit your needs during the coronavirus pandemic. If your ex is flexible, you need to talk to them about your custody arrangement. You should try to have this conversation on text or via a messenger app. This is because you want a recorded version of the conversation in case there is a problem in the future.

Is Your Ex Difficult to Deal With?

If your ex is difficult to deal with, you should not threaten to contact a lawyer. You should start by talking to your ex using a messenger or text app that records everything that is said. While you know that your ex may be difficult to deal with, they might make some valid points during your conversation. You can use those points as the pillars of a plan that you both can agree to. Throughout all of this, you must emphasize that you are more concerned about your child’s safety than your safety.

Maintain Visitation If Everyone Is Healthy

When you are healthy, you can maintain visitation so long as you and your ex live close to one another. You should take extra steps to keep your house clean, and you should ask your ex to do the same thing.

If your ex lives far from you, you may want to reconsider because it may be too far for you or your ex to drive to pick up your children. This is vitally important because you might be pulled over for what the police could deem “non-essential” travel. When you are driving across town to pick up your child, ensure that you are not making unnecessary stops. You can ask your ex to do the same thing, and you can limit your human contact during this difficult time.

What If Your Child Is Out of State?

In many cases, parents live in different states. The child may need to take a train, bus, or plane to see the non-custodial parent. If that child was effectively stuck with the non-custodial parent because of the coronavirus, it is wise to ask the child to shelter in place until there is a safe way to bring them home.

If your ex insists that your child gets on a plane to come home, you should ask your ex to accompany the child. This is the only safe way for the child to travel. If possible, you can drive to your ex’s home to bring your child back to your house. You must, however, remember that non-essential travel has been banned in many states. If you feel you can travel safely, you can do so. If you think that you might get pulled over, you need to voice these concerns to your ex.

When Should You Consult with Family Lawyers?

You should contact your attorney when you realize that your ex is acting without any logic or reason due to the situation. You may ask your attorney for an emergency injunction that will either force your ex to uphold the custody agreement, or you may petition for an emergency amendment to the child custody agreement. At this point, your ex is bound by the law to do the right thing. This should be used as a last resort when you cannot work with your ex.

Schedule Regular FaceTime Calls

One of the best things you can do during the coronavirus pandemic is to schedule regular FaceTime calls with your ex. Your ex can talk to your child for as long as they like, and everyone can stay connected during this trying time. Again, this is a good way for you to give your ex part of the visitation they agreed to without doing anything that you believe is dangerous or unreasonable.

If you can find time for your child to visit your ex even though travel is difficult, you should give your child space to enjoy your ex because their visitation schedule has changed. Kids do not cope with change well, and they need some comfort during the pandemic.

Conclusion

When you are dealing with a child custody agreement during the coronavirus pandemic, you must try to work things out with your ex first. You can use any good points your ex has made to create a new visitation agreement, and you can schedule FaceTime calls to keep everyone connected. If your ex does not cooperate, you should contact your family lawyer for help with emergency amendments to your custody agreement.

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