Stay-at-home orders across the nation aim to reduce the movement of people between households. Child custody is based on the regular movement of children between their parents’ households. If you’re seeing a problem here, you’re not the only one.
A quick Google search of “child custody coronavirus” yields dozens of results from sources like The Atlantic, The New York Times, CNN, and countless law firms like Clawson & Clawson, LLP. Every parent with shared custody seems to be wondering how to keep their children safe and honor their hard-earned custody agreements.
As experienced family law attorneys, we are here to help you navigate this difficult time. We’ve addressed some of the biggest concerns below, and we can discuss your case-specific questions during a free consultation – held via phone or video chat in light of the coronavirus crisis.
Talk to Your Ex
The first step to navigating COVID-19 with shared custody is to speak with whomever you share custody with. Many parents are surprised to learn they are on the same page and have a relatively easy time creating a new, temporary agreement. If your child is sheltering in place with you, make sure to arrange make-up time for your ex; perhaps you could add an extra week for them during summer vacation.
Whatever you decide, try to get your agreement in writing and run it by your lawyer. Avoid making parenting decisions without consulting your ex first.
Honor Court Orders When It Is Safe
If neither you nor your ex is at high-risk of exposure to COVID-19, you may be able to honor your custody agreement without putting your family in harm’s way. Nevertheless, different states have different guidelines for parents. In Tennessee, for example, the state district court is recommending that children stay with the “primary residential parent” until stay-at-home orders are lifted, but in Massachusetts, family courts are encouraging families to continue time-sharing.
For those that live in Colorado, court-ordered parenting time is considered essential travel, and you are expected to honor your custody agreement.
In many cases and locations, including Colorado, the only exception for a court order is a coronavirus diagnosis. If your ex tests positive for the disease, try to arrange virtual time sharing for your children. If your ex is in a high-risk occupation, discuss your situation with your lawyer.
Currently, Colorado courts are not handling non-emergency situations and judges are encouraging parents to find a solution. Some families are utilizing online mediation, others are involving family lawyers for virtual assistance.
Remember to prioritize your child’s wellbeing during this difficult time and do your best to maintain stability. Disagreements happen, but there’s no reason they can’t be resolved – especially with the help of one of our family law attorneys.
Discuss Your Situation With Our Firm Today
At Clawson & Clawson, LLP, we want to help you and your family get through this unprecedented time. If you have a family law concern, we encourage you to reach out.
Call us today at (719) 602-5888 or schedule a free consultation online.
We hope to help you find the best solution for you and your family.
(For accurate and up-to-date information and advice about the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website).