What You Need To Know To Protect Your Kids & Assets During A Pandemic

COVID-19 has most of us scared of the unknown right now, but what happens when family law matters such as child custody are thrown into the mix?

With the current panic over Coronavirus, many of our family law clients are wondering how they should respond. It’s essential that you protect your rights, and your children’s rights during this time.

You may be wondering…

  • Can my spouse take my kids on vacation during the Coronavirus Pandemic?
  • Can my spouse take my kids near other people during the Coronavirus Pandemic?
  • How do I get a divorce during the Coronavirus Pandemic?
  • How do I protect my assets during the Coronavirus Pandemic?

While social distancing is recommended during this time, how can you protect your children and their health if your spouse fails to comply with the recommendations made by the CDC and government? Even short visits with extended family, such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles, can put kids at risk.

Additionally, the Coronavirus outbreak has led to delays in divorces and court proceedings as many courts have closed their doors. Questions may arise about the length of your divorce, and what you can expect as the pandemic moves forward.

Coping When Your Kids Are Away

The pandemic has caught many parents in child custody arrangements unawares. Over the past year, many parents have found themselves unable to follow normal visitation. If you are being forced to be away from your kids amid a pandemic, there are ways of coping.

Increasing communication is a good way of coping. While visitation rights must be adhered to, the Covid-19 pandemic has made normal visitation impossible for some parents. If you are such a parent, you can increase communication with your kids and ex-partner.

This should bring you emotionally closer to your kids and get rid of the physical distance. It’s a good time to also trust your ex will do the right thing as a parent. It’s also important to be reasonable. With lockdowns in different places, it is impossible to keep the normal visitation schedules. There are other unique challenges that may make things harder. For instance, bad internet connectivity may hamper efforts to see your kids.

It’s worth noting that this may be a good time to rethink current custody and visitation arrangements. Parents are generally overprotective in times of crisis. Missing your child’s presence may be more upsetting.

Parents can consider asking their divorce attorney to pursue an adjustment to visitation to cope with the current pandemic.

Agreeing On The Basics

It’s no longer “business” as usual. Some precautions must be observed to keep kids and everyone else safe from COVID-19. Parents who are co-parenting should begin by agreeing on what constitutes risky behavior during the current pandemic.

Luckily, there are guidelines globally that say how adults and children should conduct themselves in public places. The current pandemic should unite parents to follow all necessary COVID-19 guidelines for the sake of their kids as opposed to disagreeing on basics.

For instance, both parents should agree on limiting social gatherings, social distancing, etc. In an emergency, parents should follow basic guidelines or be guided by trusted sources such as doctors, scientists, counselors, etc.

Get A Written Agreement

If dialogue isn’t enough, you can consider a written agreement to set ground rules in the current pandemic. A seasoned divorce attorney can help draft an agreement that will run through the entire duration of the Covid-19 pandemic and revert to normal practices after the pandemic.

The agreement can begin with simple things like a promise to call each other in case of an emergency. The contract can involve other elements unique to your family i.e., visitation that matches your new working arrangements. In fact, even aggregable ex-spouses should have their co-parenting plans in writing.

A commitment to keep communication channels open can also be included. Experts stress the importance of maintaining good communication when co-parenting in a pandemic. Open communication should involve actions like answering every form of communication in time, committing to finding pandemic-related solutions together, and ensuring children are available for virtual calls.

Generally, co-parenting in tough times is less about legal rights and more about consensus. Visitation timelines are bound to change because of lockdowns. Assuming your ex-spouse is locked down in a different state, will you take legal action for things beyond his/her control? There’s a need to find coping mechanisms. You should also agree on the basics and get something in writing.

FAQs About Co-Parenting During Covid-19

Will A Lockdown Order Affect My Custody Schedule?

Most jurisdictions in the US have specific Covid-19 lockdown guidelines that permit traveling to meet existing court orders, including those related to custody. You can ask your Alabama divorce attorney if your custody schedule will be affected in your case, especially if your ex-spouse and children reside in a state or country that has been subjected to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

As a result, most parents don’t have a reason to abandon existing parental agreements on custody and visitation. However, legal advice is important in unique circumstances involving travel across different jurisdictions.

Covid-19 Rendered Me Jobless. Should I Continue Paying Alimony?

Court orders on financial obligations related to child custody and spousal support are still in place. However, considering these are extraordinary times, any loss of income and resulting inability to meet your obligations as a parent or ex-spouse can’t be overlooked. If you can’t afford to continue paying support, it is advisable to talk to the other parent and try to work out a new agreement.

If you don’t reach an agreement, alternative dispute resolution avenues such as mediation can be used. If mediation fails, you can talk to a seasoned divorce attorney who will guide you on the court intervention process of reducing or modifying support obligations.

I Am Worried My Child Will Be Exposed To Covid-19 By The Other Parent. What Do I Do?

Assuming the other parent with custody is a first responder or healthcare worker who puts your child at a higher risk of getting Covid-19 or he/she isn’t strict with recommended guidelines, you may have grounds to get custody.

Courts are unlikely to require a “risky” parent to enjoy normally scheduled parenting. If dialogue and common sense don’t prevail, you can take the legal route. A seasoned divorce attorney can advise on how to get new custody arrangements if your child is at risk with the other parent.

We Can’t Agree On Our Existing Parenting Schedule. What Are The Options?

It is better for parents to agree than leave the decision to a court. While the current covid-19 has changed many things, every child custody and visitation issue is unique and judged based on the circumstances. If you disagree with your ex on how to restructure custody or visitation because of Covid-19, the court will decide for you, after which you must follow whatever directives are given or risk being held in contempt.

in a nutshell, co-parenting during a pandemic is challenging, especially when both parents can’t agree. If you disagree, involve the courts. While legal rights exist, co-parenting can be adjusted accordingly to cope with current travel restrictions, financial difficulties, and other eventualities.

Contact An Alabama Divorce Attorney

At Charlotte Christian Law, we focus solely on family law and have a wealth of experience to draw upon to help guide you through this uncertain period.

We understand that even though many of us are staying home, life doesn’t stop. There are concerns that must be dealt with and the welfare of children must be protected.

We want you to know that we are here to address your legal issues and to help you avoid the stress that can come with uncertainty about your divorce.

 

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    About The Author

    Charlotte Christian, Esq. is a family and divorce lawyer and founder of Charlotte Christian Law. Born and raised in the Yellowhammer State she still calls home, Charlotte is committed to helping those who experienced loss overcome their hardships and build a new life, stronger and more resilient than they were before. No stranger to trauma herself, including enduring the sudden losses of her father while a young child and husband after 10 years of marriage, Charlotte knows what it means practically and legally to put the pieces in place to create a future filled with security, hope, and opportunity, and find happiness once again. An avid sports fan, you can find Charlotte supporting SEC Athletics.