The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many parts of our lives, and it will continue to do so for months and perhaps years to come. One area where the consequences of the virus have been immediate is family law, and, in particular, shared custody agreements between ex-spouses.
It’s not hard to see why this is the case. A shared custody agreement is in large part about visitation or the “whens, whys, and hows” of moving a child from one ex-spouse’s household to the other. The details might be moot, however, if everyone involved is subject to a stay-at-home order or a ban on nonessential travel. Does this mean the child will have to stay at one parent’s house? If so, which one?
Deciding Who Will House a Child During Quarantine
There will be some family situations in which the virus itself poses an immediate threat. What if one parent tests positive for the virus or is self-quarantining because they had contact with an infected person? What if one parent believes that the other parent is not practicing adequate social distancing and is thereby putting their child at risk?
One way to deal with such situations is for the ex-spouses to get their attorneys involved, perhaps by exchanging accusations of violating the custody agreement. There is a growing consensus among family law attorneys, however, that in the midst of a pandemic is not the time to be a stickler about the details of a custody agreement or to threaten court action.
Instead, now is the time to be flexible, to seek mediated solutions, and perhaps even to consider offering “compensation” — usually in the form of extra visitation at some later date — to the parent who loses out on visitation or some other aspect of custody during the pandemic. These are rapidly changing times, and sometimes going to court for an order modification may be the only option, though.
For example, practically anyone in any industry or career field could lose their job tomorrow due to COVID-19 complications and shutdowns. Such a drastic change in circumstances might require filing for a modification of a child custody order.
Carlson & Burnett – Here to Help
To learn more about how to deal with family law issues in the era of COVID-19, contact either Attorney Karen Nelson or Attorney Charlie Grimes of Carlson Burnett, LLP in Omaha. They each help lead our family law department and provide invaluable insight and direction for child custody cases. Allow our team to help you navigate life’s difficult situations during such an unprecedented time.
For more information about our firm and our services, dial (402) 810-8611 today.