The COVID-19 pandemic has created several problems for divorced or separated parents and their custody agreements. Right now, custody orders should be followed as normally as possible, but for some parents, this means putting their family’s health at risk. Stay-at-Home orders further complicate the situation. Because of this unprecedented situation, many families are left in the dark and are confused about how they should proceed with custody during this time.
Common Custody Problems of COVID-19
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends social distancing. To enforce this, California officials have ordered everyone except essential workers and businesses to stay at home. This is difficult for parents that share custody.
Before the shutdown, it was common for parents to switch custody when children got out of school. Now schools are closed, and many parents are either working from home or have lost their jobs. All of this combined has made custody switches more and more challenging to manage.
One of the most significant issues to consider during this time is how sharing custody might impact children’s safety. According to CNN, a divorced couple in San Francisco had to set up a temporary modification to their custody agreement in order to protect their daughter from exposure to the coronavirus.
Her father was dating a clinician that was working in a hospital, thus putting the entire family at risk. Due to this, both parents decided it would be best for their daughter to stay with the mother until it was safe to resume their standard custody agreement.
Additionally, COVID-19 can bring up more custody problems. The following situations could impact the way parents navigate custody orders:
A child contracts the virus
One of the parents has the virus
There is a community outbreak near the home of one parent
What Parents Can Do Right Now
Currently, parents should be following the custody order that was in place prior to the implementation of Stay-at-Home orders. For some families, this isn’t possible. By following the custody agreement, their children are at risk.
However, each parent still has the right to their scheduled time with their children. Even if one parent is concerned about the risk of sharing custody right now, they still must follow the agreement. If one parent denies this right, it could be seen as contempt of the order, which could impact the parent’s future custody rights. So, what is the solution, then?
When possible, parents should work together to make decisions that are best for their own safety as well as their children. This means you need to be the most cooperative and flexible co-parent you can be. If you decide that your children will remain with one parent, be sure to set up ways to keep communication open between your children and both you and your ex-spouse.
For example, schedule consistent video chats between the children and the parent who is not able to see them in person. The best thing to do right now is to stay in touch as much as possible. This situation is scary for everyone involved, but especially for children. They need to feel as secure as possible, and being able to communicate with both parents will help do this.
What to do When Parents Don’t Agree
If you have had issues with your ex in the past, let it go. Now is not the time to argue. Because most family courts are closed, obtaining court-ordered custody modifications is not easy. If you need to make a modification, you should speak with your children’s other parent about informally changing custody for the time being.
In some cases, the court will make an exception to granting modifications. If you believe your current custody agreement is putting your child at risk for abuse or endangerment, the court will be open to listening to emergency cases. If you are concerned that your child’s safety is at risk, speak to a Pasadena child custody attorney to get your case before the court as soon as possible.
If you have questions about your custody agreement and COVID-19, call the Law Offices of Christopher L. Hoglin, P.C. today at (626) 653-4075 to set up a virtual consultation with our Pasadena custody lawyers.