During the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents had to become more flexible with child custody arrangements and parenting time. Although the pandemic isn’t over, courts are open for business, children are returning to school, and parents are getting back to their regular work schedules and locations. The family law attorneys at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad help parents and children work out custody agreements that are fair for everyone involved. Although in some cases parents may wish to return to their pre-pandemic custody agreement, flexibility is still important to keep in mind.
If Your Original Custody Agreement Is Still Intact
During the pandemic, some parents chose to alter custody and visitation arrangements without court involvement. If this is true in your case, it’s a good idea to sit down with your co-parent and discuss whether you want to make those changes permanent. If you do, petitioning the court to modify your pre-Covid custody agreement is the best course of action. Even if you and your co-parent get along and agree on most things, issues can arise at any time. Having a court-ordered arrangement in place can help you avoid problems and provide clear boundaries and expectations.
If you never altered your original agreement and want to return to it, you don’t have to do anything unless one parent contests it. Your family lawyer can assist you with working out the details of your custody arrangement and provide a neutral perspective on how to accomplish your goals for parenting time and custody with as little upheaval as possible.
mending An Existing Custody Agreement
Parents and guardians who had their custody agreement officially altered by the court during the pandemic will have to go through the courts to change it. Resistance to change isn’t unusual – one or both parties may have become comfortable with custody arrangements during the pandemic. However, due to changing work and school schedules and other circumstances you may have no choice but to make alterations to an existing agreement.
Again, flexibility on everyone’s part can make the process run much more smoothly. Regardless of your feelings as a parent, it’s the judge’s job to put your children’s best interests above all else. Maintaining strong relationships with your children and putting their needs first should be your top priorities. Keeping the lines of communication open and working collaboratively with your co-parent usually benefits everyone in the end.
What To Do If You Can’t See Eye To Eye
Sometimes coming to a mutually agreeable child custody arrangement with your co-parent just isn’t possible. Contact your family law attorney or divorce lawyer to help you hash things out. Remember that you are not permitted to withhold your child or break agreed-upon schedules unless your child is in imminent danger. Your lawyer can file an emergency petition in dire circumstances. In some cases, alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation can be more expedient and less stressful than going back and forth with multiple hearings to come to an agreement.
Your lawyer can assess the situation and advise you of practical options to help resolve issues surrounding custody, child support, and more. If things are particularly contentious, your family law attorney can handle discussions and negotiations to help you avoid arguments that could be emotionally harmful to your children.
Keep An Open Mind
If there’s one thing that people have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that circumstances can change without warning. A member of the family could fall ill, a parent may have to change jobs or rearrange schedules, and children could have to go back to distance learning from home. Keeping an open mind, managing expectations, and working with your co-parent to create a healthy environment for your children is well worth the effort.
Contact A Child Custody Lawyer
At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad, our family law team understands the challenges that families continue to face due to COVID-19. Settling custody disputes and solidifying existing or new agreements post-Covid can be daunting, but with our compassionate, competent attorneys in your corner, you can overcome common hurdles while protecting your children’s best interests. Contact us online or call our Bethlehem office at 610-867-2900 to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout eastern Pennsylvania.