While concerns about COVID-19 and related health issues persist across the United States, many parents face additional worries relating to child custody. The following are a few tips for how to navigate the confusing situation of shared custody during a pandemic. If you have any questions about your specific situation, you should not hesitate to contact a Cumming, Georgia child custody lawyer.
Follow Your Parenting Plan Whenever Possible
Parents who share custody should have a parenting plan in place that dictates the schedule for when the child lives with each parent. The plan should also detail how the child is exchanged between the parents and account for special occasions and holidays. However, most parenting plans do not address unexpected events, such as natural disasters or a public health crisis.
Public health orders do not override existing parenting plans and custody orders. If it is feasible and safe, you should adhere to your existing schedule as much as possible. If you need to adjust for certain situations, talk to the other parent as you would when unexpected complications normally arise. Often, you can agree to make small adjustments on your own with no further conflict. Making a one-time adjustment should not impact your custody rights or parenting schedule on an ongoing basis.
There are some situations that may require more drastic changes to your custody schedule. These include:
- One parent must report to work and cannot provide childcare now that schools, daycares, and camps are largely closed
- One parent works in a high-risk job, such as a healthcare provider and the child has underlying health concerns
- One parent starts displaying symptoms of COVID-19
How you should handle the situation will depend on your specific circumstances. For instance, if one parent is showing symptoms of COVID-19 and the child has been living with that parent, it might be necessary for the child to be quarantined with the parent for up to 14 days, depending on medical recommendations. If one parent cannot provide childcare or has a risky environment for the child’s health at home, the child might need to stay with the other parent for the time being. While it is not ideal for a child not to see one parent in person for a while, there are plenty of teleconferencing options available and you should maintain a regular virtual visitation schedule.
One of the most concerning situations for a parent - under any circumstances - is when they believe their child may be in harm’s way with their other parent. If you suspect your child is experiencing physical, mental, or sexual abuse or if their other parent is unfit, you should consult with a lawyer immediately about the possibility of an emergency custody order.
Contact a Cumming Child Custody Attorney for Help Today
At Banks, Stubbs & McFarland, we are here to help during the COVID-19 crisis. Call 770-887-1209 or contact us online to speak with a Forsyth County child custody attorney.