Throughout the Covid-19 global pandemic, you and your children have played it safe. You have only gone out for the essentials. You have worn your masks and kept socially distant. For child custody and visitation exchanges, you spoke to your ex, who is taking the same care. So far, visitation hasn’t been very stressful. But now that schools are reopening, new threats and anxieties threaten to jeopardize everything you’ve worked so hard to protect. In light of these new challenges, what are some child custody risks related to visitation you should consider?
Be Aware of the Risks From School Reopening
First and foremost, health concerns are impacting visitation and child custody during the reopening of schools. You, your children, or your ex may have underlying health conditions that might affect their level of concern about COVID-19 visitation dangers.
You might also run into the visitation issue of a parent or child being under quarantine due to possible exposure or even a positive virus test. Obviously, this can be a very complicated issue. If your ex still wants their visitation, what should you do?
If you have sole physical custody and the child lives with you, it might be an easier discussion to agree on new visitation and custody arrangements that will limit the danger of exposure with the noncustodial parent. You can arrange parenting time in the form of virtual visitation. This may allow the other parent to still get to spend time with the child.
If you have joint physical custody, the child visitation issue will become even more complicated. If one parent is under quarantine or has a positive COVID-19 test, a parent may want to protect their child. At the same time, you might be at risk of violating the terms of your custody agreement if you, as a custodial parent, are stopping your child from going over to the house of the other parent.
Make sure you clearly express these visitation concerns and worries to your attorney and follow their advice. The safety of your children should be your top priority, especially in the eyes of the courts.
Factor in Your Decisions About School
We have all seen how every person in society is making their own decisions about Covid-19. Some are not worried at all, and some are spending hundreds of dollars on personal protective equipment. Likewise, everyone will make decisions about what to do about visitation and in-person school attendance.
Many districts in Texas are offering the option of remote learning. Even though you and your ex split up, it would be best for your children if you could try to come together on a decision during these difficult times. Try to reach a compromise that you both can live with regarding visitation.
But remember, no matter what you decide is best for you, when custody and visitation is concerned, it is very important to follow the visitation rules laid in your custody order. A judge will need to approve any changes to your order.
Finding a Work-Parenting Balance
For some people, their career or business is their life. With many schools only offering a distance learning option for the first month or so, parents are having trouble balancing the demands of childcare and a job or business. These situations can be very frustrating to your child visitation because you or your ex might feel pulled in many directions.
Just ensure that you are following the child custody order relating to visitation and be patient. If you are having to work from home and watch your child, communicate with your boss. You are not alone. Let them know what is happening with your child visitation. Ask if they can accommodate your workflow, deadlines, and interactions with co-workers.
Above all else, ensure that you review your child custody agreement with your family law attorney before making any decisions that might violate its terms.
Modifying A Court-Ordered Visitation Schedule Or Custody Terms
In most cases where you want to make a permanent modification to a court-ordered visitation schedule or the legal and physical custody arrangements, parents need to prove that there has been a significant change in life circumstances or financial situations. Alternatively, you can show that there is abuse or neglect by one parent. This proves that the existing shared custody arrangements are not in the best interests of the child.
However, during this time, the family law courts are accepting proposals for temporary changes to court-ordered schedules. This can include a modification to visitation rights such as temporary suspension of joint physical custody, although parents would still share joint legal custody. You can ask the judge to order supervised visitation if that will be in the child’s best interest. You may need to provide a reason for the need for supervised visitation.
Sometimes, you might have to temporarily modify the frequency of visitation rights or ask for a change in schedule. In cases where one parent has tested positive for COVID-19 or is under quarantine, you may have to temporarily request a change in custody of a child. This can happen if one parent has sole custody and you want to get your child to live with you. You can also temporarily ask for sole custody if you currently have joint custody.
If you need to modify existing physical custody or legal custody terms, you may need the help of a lawyer. Alternatively, you may want to seek advice from a lawyer on whether your current plans with the other parent violate the terms of the court-ordered arrangement. The family law experts at Sean Lynch are here to help.
Contact us today for a no-cost case review.