The coronavirus pandemic has affected virtually every aspect of American life. From grocery shopping to going to school to Coparenting. While it hasn’t been easy on anyone, those with a joint custody arrangement are facing more hurdles than most.
Since every family’s situation is unique, there’s no standard approach for handling parenting plans as long as stay-at-home orders are in place. And while family law judges in New York have advised parents to “act reasonably,” doing so could mean something different for everyone.
If the pandemic has made coparenting especially challenging, you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that family law attorneys have been fielding from parents who are unsure how to proceed:
1. Do Shelter-in-Place Rules Affect Custody Arrangements?
Shelter-in-place orders do not have an impact on existing custody arrangements. As such, parents are expected to continue following their court-ordered plan—unless they have valid concerns.
If you’re legitimately worried about your children’s health during the pandemic, you may be able to modify the terms of your custody arrangement temporarily. Concerns that might justify a modification include:
- The other parent has been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19;
- Symptoms of COVID-19 are being exhibited by the other parent;
- The other parent has a high-risk job and may be exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace; or
- Your child is in a high-risk category for COVID-19.
2. How Do I Go About Changing Our Family’s Custody Arrangement?
If you believe your children’s health will be at risk if you continue following the court-ordered arrangement, discuss your concerns with your ex. As long as your worries are valid, he or she should be receptive.
Should your ex be reasonable, you may be able to devise a new arrangement that prioritizes your children’s best interests. In such a scenario, there is no need to go to court because the changes you make will be temporary.
If you are unable to agree, however, you make have to file a petition asking a judge to intervene. Since courts are not willing to modify arrangements except under extreme circumstances, you should call a family law attorney first. An experienced lawyer will review the situation and help you determine how best to proceed.
3. Can I Keep My Children If I Think Visiting Their Other Parent Will Expose Them to COVID-19?
If you violate a court-ordered arrangement, you could face legal consequences. As such, you should consider your position seriously before you refuse to let your children visit their other parent.
Courts around the country are instructing parents to continue following their custody arrangements, and they’re generally unsympathetic to those who deviate from the plan. Should you decide to violate the order anyway (without negotiating new terms with your ex), be prepared to present evidence that supports your reasoning for doing so.
Call 716-855-3761 for a Free Consultation with a New York Family Law Attorney
If you’re facing a coparenting dispute—or a contentious custody battle—turn to Noralyn A. Dillon at LoTempio P.C. Law Group. A seasoned family law attorney, Nora is both a strategic negotiator and a skilled litigator. Call 716-855-3761 or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free case evaluation with a family lawyer in New York.