As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate across the nation, child custody has emerged as a lynchpin issue for many families. From parents acting as essential workers to issues collecting stimulus checks, it can seem like there's no end to the challenges brought on by the coronavirus for co-parents.
If you're engaged in a child custody arrangement, understanding how COVID-19 impacts that arrangement—and what steps you can take to protect your child—can help you find the best path forward.
Are Child Custody Orders the Same Under COVID-19?
For many co-parents, COVID-19 was an unexpected roadblock. With schools shutting down, transferring custody became harder. Additionally, many parents are worried about their child's safety in different environments—especially in situations where one parent is an essential worker who might be exposed to the virus.
Whatever child custody arrangement you established before COVID-19 is still legally binding, and either party can face legal penalties if they fail to comply with it.
Tips for Dealing with COVID-19
Here are some steps you can take to deal with COVID-19 as a co-parent:
- Make a plan for your child's education. COVID-19 shut down schools, and most are operating via online classes as a result. Work with your co-parent to make sure your child is academically supported.
- Pay some extra attention to your child. Many children are missing out on important events like graduations and proms thanks to the coronavirus. You and your co-parent should collaborate to make sure they feel emotionally supported.
- Stay on the same page safety-wise. You and your co-parent should be taking the same precautions (wearing masks, practicing social distancing, washing hands regularly, etc.), both as a model for your child, and to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
- Discuss financials. COVID-19 hit the economy hard. If you or your co-parent lost a job to the coronavirus, discuss how that impacts your child custody or child support arrangement.
- Reevaluate your parenting plan. Elements of your parenting plan, such as where to transfer custody, may need to be changed as a result of COVID-19. Look it over and discuss alternatives.
- Figure out what to do if one parent is at-risk or an essential worker. If a parent is an essential worker, consider alternatives to physical custody like regular video-chats. Your priority should be keeping your child safe, even if that means one party sees them less than they would like for a little while.
- Be flexible. These are challenging times. For most of us, circumstances are changing week-by-week and even day-by-day. Be willing to work with your co-parent and cut them some slack if they're struggling (and expect them to do the same for you, of course).
At the Law Offices of Mark M. Childress, PLLC, our lawyers can help you navigate child custody issues.
To learn more about our firm or schedule a consultation with an experienced child custody attorney, contact us online or via phone at }.