The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on families all around the world. Millions of people have had to cope with illness and losing loved ones while keeping their own families safe. Parents who share custody of their children face unique challenges.
Many parents worry about the possible consequences of their children going back and forth between households during the pandemic. Emotions can run high when the health and welfare of children are involved. The family law attorneys at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad know that parents and children are experiencing a lot of stress right now and are doing their best to help families navigate child custody issues during the pandemic.
Adhering to Existing Custody Agreements
Court-ordered custody arrangements must still be followed, even in a pandemic. Unless a member of your household or your co-parent’s household becomes ill with COVID-19, it is typically in the best interest of the children to keep following custody arrangements that are already in place. It’s also a good idea to make a COVID-19 “sick plan” with your co-parent, so you’ll be prepared if someone in the family or household is exposed or comes down with the illness.
While you may believe keeping your child from a co-parent is justified due to fears of them catching the virus, it’s important to keep in mind your child needs stability and reassurance from both parents during these tough times. Withholding your children from their other parent because you fear they might get sick will likely be a tough argument to make in front of a judge. If you believe your child is in danger, contact your attorney to find out what steps you can take to protect their health and safety.
Flexibility Is Key
There’s no denying the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on work and school schedules. Some parents are now working at home, which can present significant challenges, especially if their children are school-age and participating in distance learning. Kids also may need some extra attention because their social interaction with peers is limited.
Technology has made it easy to connect online. Regardless of whether your arrangement has changed, scheduling regular virtual visits with children and co-parents helps reinforce and strengthen relationships during these uncertain times.
Even if you and your co-parent don’t always see eye to eye, the best thing you can do for your family is to be open to compromise and put your children’s best interests first. Keep the lines of communication open. Working collaboratively with your co-parent can make things much easier and less stressful for everyone.
What to Do If Serious Issues Arise
Sometimes it’s just not feasible to come to an agreement with your co-parent. Unless your child is in imminent danger, contact your attorney before withholding them from your co-parent or changing arrangements without their consent.
Although many courts have canceled conferences and hearings for child custody and divorce, emergency petitions for child custody can still be filed. Processes and procedures vary from county to county. Depending on the jurisdiction, you may be required to submit the paperwork online, and someone will contact you to schedule a hearing.
In some counties, courts are rescheduling hearings and conferences that were canceled, but there is a significant backlog. If your custody matter is not urgent, it may take a while to get it resolved. During the pandemic, coming to a custody agreement via alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, may allow you to resolve these matters much more quickly.
Contact a Lehigh Valley Child Custody Lawyer
At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad, our team understands the coronavirus pandemic has made child custody issues extremely challenging for some families. We believe children’s interests should always be at the forefront. As seasoned litigators, we use our conflict resolution skills to help parents solve problems with compassion and integrity.
To schedule a consultation, contact us online or call our Bethlehem office at 610-867-2900. We’re proud to serve clients throughout the Pocono Mountains region and Lehigh Valley. Our other offices are in Allentown, Stroudsburg, and Topton, Pennsylvania.