Life has almost come to a halt for Americans since the outbreak of COVID-19. People have been asked to stay-at-home unless they have to do something necessary, such as visiting a doctor or buying groceries. Going to work is also prohibited for all except for those working in essential businesses, such as the power company.
The stay-at-home orders also mean no traveling for unapproved purposes. This has created confusion among ex-spouses who share child custody and don’t know if they are allowed to travel to drop their children off to the other parent or vice versa.
To help you safely chart the waters in such difficult times, Brian Walker Law Firm PC is here to provide valuable insights on the situation. Read further to know how the stay-at-home order will affect your child’s custody and a few tips to implement in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Will Stay-At-Home Orders Impact Your Custody/Possession Schedule?
In general, no. Most courts have issued specific orders that state that the possession schedules need not be changed and co-parents can continue to travel under the same custody/possession schedule, as specified in the court order or agreement. However, in case the other parent lives in another state, changing custody/possession will be more difficult.
If there is any dispute between you and your ex-spouse regarding your legally binding parenting agreements, it will be handled in the usual manner, as per the state laws.
It is important to note that while there are no changes in laws regarding custody matters, parents are advised to exercise extreme caution to keep themselves and their families safe. Here is what you should do if any of the following situations occur:
● If the other parent has traveled recently, it will be better for him or her to self-quarantine and not expect parenting time during this period. The person should remain in quarantine for at least 14 days.
● If any of your family members have been exposed to or shows symptoms of coronavirus, make sure to let the other parent know. If the child lives with the other parent, ask them not to visit your home.
● If you usually travel by plane to drop your child off to your ex-spouse’s home, choose to drive this time instead. Alternatively, you can decide to give the co-parent living in another state make-up time with the child after the restrictions are lifted.
The existing custody arrangement has to be followed unless you and your ex-spouse decide on an alternative plan (which is accepted by the court) or a judge agrees to change your custody order.
Tips For Staying Connected When You Can’t Be Together
1) Make A Plan
Get an emergency custody plan in place. This will help you and your ex-spouse cover any worst-case scenarios. It might also be tricky to schedule parenting time to cover the gap in the school year because of the outbreak.
2) Follow The Protocols
Put protocols in place to protect the health of everyone. Make sure that both of you are taking precautions, such as social distancing and frequent hand washing, when at home. Ask your child to do the same and supervise him or her closely.
3) Plan For Emergencies
Think about everything. What will happen if either of you contracts the virus? Where will the child stay? If there is a place where you can stay during isolation, make sure to stock it up. Purchase all the essentials for home as well, in case you and your child need to remain in isolation.
4) Be Transparent
Let your co-parent know about any suspected or confirmed exposure to coronavirus. Also, talk to your child and make him or her aware of the situation. This will help you outline the next steps and deal with the problems effectively.
For more information on custody or family law matters, contact our experts at Brian Walker Law Firm PC at 360-695-8886 today!