Solving child custody issues is normally difficult enough, but due the effects of this unprecedented global pandemic, it has become almost impossible. Parents are worried and confused about whether travel between houses is safe for their child, and they are disagreeing on the specifics of following the coronavirus restrictions. Law firms are being flooded with calls asking if separated parents still have to meet custody arrangements, if video calls can replace in-person meetings, and whether their child should visit a parent who is an essential worker. If you are one of these parents, then hopefully this article will give you some guidance on the do’s and don’ts of this situation.
How to Negotiate Changes to the Situation
The main thing to keep in mind is that your child is the priority and their happiness should be the most important factor in any decision. It is easy to get caught up in disagreements with an estranged partner, but the best course of action is to find a way to negotiate diplomatically. This is especially important because the courts and family law firms will have limited time available at the moment, so if you can sort things out between yourselves it will be better for everyone. If you need a mediator to keep things civilised, then make that happen, because there are definitely a lot of changes you will have to discuss in order to cope with this situation.
What Should You Do if One Parent Catches COVID-19?
This is a difficult situation, and it requires serious thought. Firstly, is the infected parent able to sufficiently care for the child? If your child is young and requires food preparation or assistance with remote learning, they might suffer without parental assistance. Also, the child could have already caught the virus from the infected parent, so is it wise to send them to the other parent’s house where they could infect more people? It is recommended that if your child is already with the unaffected parent, and hasn’t been exposed to the virus, then you should keep them there, out of harm’s way. The best thing to do is consider all these potential factors, discuss with the other parent, and try to reach the most logical solution.
Continue to Meet Custody Arrangements
Most people are wondering if their child should still travel between houses when the region is in lockdown. The answer is that parents must continue to meet custody arrangements, as transferring your child between houses or visiting your child is considered essential and these needs must still be met. As long as you comply with restrictions such as social distancing while completing these necessary movements, then they are allowed. If circumstances arise such as one of you having to self-isolate, or the schools close and your usual change-over place is no longer viable – then you need to use common sense to figure out a solution that best suits your child’s needs.
What to Do if One Parent Is an Essential Worker:
Some parents have been concerned about whether it is safe for their child to stay with a parent who is an essential worker – such as a nurse, or a doctor. This is another situation where parents must be careful not to bring their personal agenda into the decision making process, this should not be a way to cut the other parent out. If there is genuine concern that the child is at risk because the parent is treating people with coronavirus, then the two parents need to have a discussion. Perhaps you could agree that the essential worker only works on patients without coronavirus, or they have to work remotely via phone consultations. The essential worker parent could also describe how careful they will be, such as making sure they wash clothes immediately when they get home and always wear PPE at work.
Avoid Disputes About Coronavirus Restrictions
Everyone feels differently about the coronavirus restrictions, some people are quite carefree, and others follow the rules to the letter. If you are co-parenting during this time, you need to reach a common ground and agree on a plan. Your child’s safety should be the main consideration, and then you can organise how both of you will deal with all the necessary changes. Try to stay calm, and make a list of all the things you have both agreed you will do to keep your family safe during this time.
Seek Professional Advice From a Family Law Firm
This blog article is not intended to be a substitute for sound legal advice. It is recommended that you always contact an accredited legal professional to discuss your legal needs. An experienced family law firm will be able to explain all of these issues in more detail and give you specific advice for your exact situation.