For some families, hunkering down at home in remaining in quarantine isn’t much of a challenge at all. However, it’s often an entirely different story for families dealing with complex child custody arrangements.

Here is a guide for how to navigate child custody rules while also taking precautions for coronavirus and keeping your children safe.

How Coronavirus if Affecting Child Custody

As a general rule, shelter-in-place orders from the government do not cancel out child custody orders issued by a judge. Therefore, it is important for families to stick to their child custody arrangements unless otherwise agreed upon or changed by a judge. Contempt of court charges and sanctions may be imposed upon parents for denying child custody due to coronavirus-related social distancing.

But in some situations, it is necessary to have a temporary order issued with regard to coronavirus and child custody during quarantine. These instances include if one parent has COVID-19 symptoms, has a high-risk job that involves frequent exposure to COVID-19, or if the child is at a particularly high risk of contracting the virus because of a compromised immune system.

Court Closures and Child Custody

Another issue that parents with shared custody of children are dealing with is immediate access to the court system. Many courts are only open for emergency needs right now, which means that parents must have urgent needs and significant cause with proper documentation to have an existing child custody agreement suspended or modified.

There is no standard in place for what we are currently experiencing in our world, so courts are having to create new rules to accommodate the ever-changing health crisis situation and issue guidance to parents as more research and information become available. In New York, virtual court hearings are being conducted throughout the state, which may be helpful to expedite the process. However, it may be quicker, easier, and more effective to work directly with a child custody attorney to address your needs before going to court.

How to Keep Your Children Safe

This is a particularly challenging time to be in the midst of a custody battle, but ultimately, parents must put emotion aside and follow court orders and state and local orders as diligently as possible. Parenting decisions should be made based on reliable news sources and through effective communication with the other parent. If you are concerned about your children’s safety while moving from house to house during the pandemic, you might want to negotiate with the other parent to make up for lost time later, when it is safer to travel and live in multiple households. Another idea is to schedule more virtual visits through video calls so that children can shelter in place without missing out on valuable interactions with both parents.

Be honest with your ex about your coronavirus risk factors and your concerns for the children. With good information and unwavering love for your kids, you may be able to reach a temporary parenting plan agreement that addresses the COVID-19 crisis and allows more flexibility in your schedules to keep everyone safe.

Get Help with Your Child Custody Matter

Pandemic or not, Alatsas Law Firm is always your local source for legal representation related to child custody matters. We will fight and negotiate for your best outcome and the best interest of your children so that you can provide a safe and nurturing environment for them. Our child custody law team is competent, compassionate, and committed to helping you get through the current quarantine protocols and plan for your children’s futures.

To learn more or for a free and confidential legal consultation, please contact us online or by phone at 718-233-2903.

Ted Alatsas
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Trusted Brooklyn, New York Family Law Attorney helping NY residents with Elder Law and Asset Protection
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