Parenting is difficult even in the best of times, but adding a global pandemic and virtual learning to an already complex schedule between two co-parents can strain the relationship with your former partner. Given that courts are not fully operational at this point and time, there are a few things you may need to reconsider if you and your former partner are not on the same page of how to handle things like activities for the children during this time, medical treatment, schooling, and your visitation schedule.
Child Custody and Visitation Court Orders During the Pandemic of COVID19
Firstly, it makes a big difference whether or not you already have a court order for custody and visitation. If so, then you are required to abide by that order even if the other parent is parenting in a way that makes you uncomfortable or unhappy. Withholding or requiring changes to visitation is always frowned upon by the court, even if you have the best intentions. The only way to withhold or change your current schedule is to go before a judge and ask that it be changed. Withholding or unilaterally changing the custody and visitation schedule that is already in place puts you at risk of being held in contempt of court, even if your reasons are for the health and safety of the children.
Prior to disruption of the schedule, the best thing you can do is have an open and honest conversation with the other parent about your concerns for your children, be it their health and safety, what activities they are involved in or their schooling. Talking it through together, even if you don’t come to a unanimous agreement, might help ease the anxiety you have about your former partner’s parenting style during this time. Many couples no longer know the day-to-day details about their former partner, especially someone’s employment has changed in this time, finances are different, and now parents are having to work through their child’s educational needs, many virtually from within the home. Even if you do end up going back to court having peaceful conversations with the other parent illustrates your ability to try and work through your problems before seeking intervention. Even if you are in a very contentious relationship with the other parent, you may wish to utilize a moderator be it a neutral third party, therapist, or a specialist in this field.
If you cannot come to a consensus, and you still feel strongly about your position even though it is not in line with your current order, you can go back to the judge and ask for a modification. In very extreme scenarios, if you feel the children are being harmed, abused, or neglected, you can ask for immediate relief; however, these are very rare occurrences and are the far extreme option judges are only hearing on a very limited basis. You may wish to seek advice from a professional in the field of domestic law to make sure your concerns are being heard by the other parent, and they can also help guide you if a change is necessary. At Zinicola Blanch Overand & Hart, we tailor our advice to the needs of each client, and when it comes to co-parenting, each case is unique. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today by clicking here.