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COVID-19 Impact on Family Law Orders

COVID-19 has shocked our world and impacted the lives of all families. The impact is perhaps greater for parents who share custody of a child with another parent after a separation, or a paternity or divorce matter. With great uncertainty in our day-to-day lives, parents facing challenges with custodial arrangements are undoubtedly going to be faced with tough decisions. It is imperative that parents with fears or concerns contact an experienced family law attorney to determine how to best approach the situation.

Following these general guidelines may assist parents in the interim:

Keep the Health of Your Children at the Forefront of Your Decision Making

  • In California, the court’s focus in custody matters is, in part, the health of your children. The CDC and local and state guidelines provide model good behavior and you should too! Teach your children the basics of good hygiene and make sure you enforce the rules. Also, stay apprised of the ever-changing guidelines and share them with your co-parent.
  • If you have concerns related to safe practices being followed during the other parent’s custodial time, and you have not been able to discuss the issue productively with the other parent, consider asking how an attorney can help to have these conversations and come to agreements that are safe for everyone.

Communicate with Your Children in Age-Appropriate Ways

  • In California, the court’s focus in custody matters is, in part, on the mental and emotional health of your children. For school-aged children, their lives have already changed drastically by the disruptions to their routine and the lack of ability to go to school and see their friends. Certainly, this affects emotional and mental health. Be honest about the COVID-19 pandemic but maintain your calm and reaffirm for your children that this too shall pass and things will return to normal. Avoid excessive exposure to “adult” conversations, which may include exposure to media coverage.
  • If you have concerns about the exposure of your children to information in the other parent’s household, consider discussing these concerns with an attorney who can help to pave the way for a more meaningful conversation and agreements in this regard.

Comply with Court Orders

  • In California, failure to comply with a custody order could result in the removal of custodial time or custodial rights, amongst other things. In some instances, there may be criminal penalties. Before you fail to comply with a court order, seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney.

Be Cooperative and Understanding

  • Co-parenting is challenging when there is not a pandemic. With fluid regulations and guidelines relating to COVID-19, remain understanding of your co-parent’s concerns and receptive to working through any issues in a cooperate way.

Contact an Attorney if Questions, Disagreements, Emergencies, or Confusion Exists

  • If questions, disagreements, emergencies, or confusion arise, before acting, be sure to contact an experienced family law attorney who can walk you through a strategy and plan to achieve optimum results as effectively and efficiently as possible.

This article is not intended to provide legal advice. Every family is unique, and parents should always consult with the appropriate professionals prior to any action/inaction.

Contact the offices of Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara LLP today to learn more about COVID-19 and its effects on child custody.