Divorced parents in Connecticut and other parts of the country are faced with challenges related to parenting plans in the midst of an unprecedented Covid-19 crisis. Serious health concerns, regional lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders are forcing co-parents to adjust their routines for their minor children and modify their child custody and visitation schedules.
Wherever the co-parents share a relationship of mutual cooperation, it gets easier to manage their parenting plans in the current situation. But where the relationships are estranged and old wounds are still raw, the stressful situation created by the coronavirus pandemic can become even harder for the parents as well as child.
Disruption of Routines
Logistics present one of the key hurdles for many divorced parents at this time. If the co-parents reside in close vicinity, they may be used to exchanging children at the workplace, school or a shopping center. Most of these facilities are temporarily shut down.
Parents who reside afar or in different towns, they may risk violating the local shelter-in-place order if they decide to pick-up or drop-off their child. Where parents are based in separate states, the challenge is even bigger because they would probably not want to let the children fly down to meet the other parent in the present circumstances.
Safety and Medical Concerns
In the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic, non-custodial parents are likely to have high concerns about the health and safety of their child. They may wonder about how far the custodial parent is committed about maintaining social distancing, following the best hygiene practices, and keeping the child safe.
Worries would increase the former spouse has a new partner, and there is no way to know how that person is keeping herself or himself safe to prevent the child from infection risks. The lack of control for the non-custodial parent becomes a serious issue in these times. It is important for the custodial parent to continually update and reassure the other parent that the child’s best interests are foremost on their mind at all times.
Current Custodial Orders Remain in Force
One of the hurdles for many divorced parents during the pandemic is that the family courts in the state and county are mostly closed and will only deal with unavoidable emergency matters such as child abuse or endangerment. Child custody modifications may not be a priority matter for the courts right now.
Therefore, even where the co-parents are willing to modify their current child custody agreements legally, they may not be able to do so. In this situation, it is best for the parties to consult with an experienced family law attorney in Connecticut.
If the co-parents are making some adjustments to the original custody agreement to cope with the prevailing Covid-19 situation, they should do it in writing under the advice of their lawyer. Physical copies of any correspondence in this regard should be preserved.
Interpretation of divorce laws are equally vague in Connecticut, where attorneys are advising clients to put any temporary tweaks to the original custody agreement in writing, save hard copies of all correspondence about changes to the agreement, and embrace flexibility on both sides.
Increase Virtual Communication
A knowledgeable divorce lawyer would encourage the co-parents to adapt to the new temporary circumstances and embrace flexibility. They should organize virtual meetings using Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype. This will make up for the lost time for the non-custodial parent and also provide the child an opportunity to interact with the parent during this difficult period.
Video communication between co-parents will always be more effective than a phone call, text or email, and they can arrive at mutual acceptable solutions regarding the parenting plans as long as the crisis lasts. An attorney can encourage the divorced parents to adjust their parenting schedules in such a way that the non-custodial parent gets additional time with the child at a later stage when the pandemic risks have cleared up.
If the custodial parent is a healthcare worker and going through rigorous work schedules while also being exposed to higher risks of infection, they might consider allowing the child to be in the care of the other parent until the situation gets better.
In a high conflict divorce, it may be more difficult to make adjustments to parenting plans during the coronavirus crisis. An uncooperative custodial parent might try to use the pandemic as an excuse to prevent the other parent from interacting with the child.
These are potentially complex situations where it can help if you have a seasoned divorce attorney by your side to provide legal guidance and support.
We are Here to Help
The skilled and compassionate legal team at APEX Law Firm, LLC is here to help you during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond for all your family law issues. If you are concerned about issues such as child custody, visitation and support during these times, our seasoned attorneys will provide you the right legal advice. Call us at (860) 900-0900 today to schedule a consultation with our Connecticut divorce lawyers today.