Dealing with Changes to Custody and Visitation Arrangements Caused by COVID-19
Divorced parents are accustomed to raising children amidst changing circumstances, but the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced challenges that many of us have never seen before. Stay at home orders have imposed strict limits on the way we live and complicated many custody and visitation arrangements. We cannot be sure when daily life will more closely resemble what we were used to, but by addressing key issues head-on, divorced and separated parents can avert additional aggravation during an already difficult time.
Each situation is unique, but there are some specific custody and visitation options that might merit consideration during this trying time, such as:
- Changes to your parenting plan — With schools closed down all over the country, kids are spending more time at home with their parents. Because the closures happened so suddenly, it is likely that most parenting plans don’t account for extra hours the children usually spend in class. It is a good idea to review the parenting plan that you have in place and see if it needs any adjusting. Parents who are not on great terms, or who have difficulties agreeing on visitation arrangements, might need to seek legal advice and request that the court modify their parenting plan order.
- Alternative visitation arrangements — One parent might be diagnosed with COVID-19 or live with someone who has tested positive for the virus. If this is the case, parents may wish to consider alternative visitation arrangements such as video conference calls via Zoom, Facetime or Skype. Increasing the frequency of calls might also be warranted. Children who have underlying health problems, such as asthma or diabetes, are especially vulnerable to the virus and should stay out of any homes with people who have tested positive for the disease.
- Modifying child support obligations — If a parent has lost their job or the pandemic significantly changes where a child is spending their time, child support orders might have to be adjusted. In such a case, courts can look at the order and recalculate child support payments if necessary.
Trying to wait out the crisis could lead to unnecessary frustration. To ease everyone’s burden, divorced parents who believe that a change might be beneficial should consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney.
Contact a dedicated family lawyer to discuss your situation and options
Hougen Family Law advises clients on various family law issues, including custody and visitation matters. To schedule an appointment regarding your legal options, please call 480-878-8808 or contact the firm online.