The current uncertainty that parents are facing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is leaving divorced or separated parents with many unanswered questions regarding child visitation and child custody.
In response to child custody and child-related concerns, our lawyers have issued a general statement to assist the numerous families struggling with what is going on in our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHILD CUSTODY AND COVID-19
- There is not a rule that fits all family situations.
- The Texas Supreme Court has issued an order to the effect that court-ordered periods of possession should continue as though regular school was in session. Texas Supreme Court Second Emergency Order Regarding the Covid-19 State of Disaster.
- Harris County, Texas, has issued a stay at home order as of March 11, 2020. Page 3, Section 1-d, states that the order does not prevent the following of orders or agreements regarding child-related visitation or custody agreements. Harris County Stay Home Order. Harris County Stay at Home Order.
- A general rule of thumb – if the county orders allow grocery shopping and food pickup, child custody exchanges can occur with the same precautions. The joint groups of AAML and AFCC, leaders in the area of child custody work, have issued 7 Guidelines that have been adopted by many judges and jurisdictions. LINK
- It is best to communicate with transparency with the other parent as to what CDC and local protocols are going to be followed in each home to maximize safety for all; daily temperature monitoring for all if indicated by exposures to large numbers of people; willingness to share and quarantine if exposed.
- If possession periods are missed, see if you can agree on makeup time with specified parameters.
TALK TO A LAWYER
There are many, many variables you should thoroughly discuss with your lawyer including but are not limited to:
- The health of the child, parents, and those in the residences.
- Job duties of the parents, unemployed versus essential workers
- Distance and ease of exchange options with safety in mind
- Schooling needs and ability to provide smooth transitions
- Alternatives to in-person time with the child
The attorneys at Myres & Associates are ready to speak with you by phone or video. It is important that we have a copy of your orders of possession to determine enforceability issues and provide you the best guidance.
Reprinted with permission from the March 09, 2021 edition of the Texas Lawyer © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. ALMReprints.com – 877-257-3382 - firstname.lastname@example.org.