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Apr 3, 2020

Custody and COVID 19: Divorced Parents’ Dilemma

Children and Divorce

There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has thrown our daily lives into uncertainty.

Safeguarding your children during Covid-19

Before Covid-19, you may have experienced issues about the custody agreement following your divorce. In today’s situation, balancing the recommendations for self-quarantine with your parenting agreement schedule can be extremely challenging. Jobs, finances and schedules are a mess, so sticking strictly to a parenting and custody arrangement is a tough choice . And really what matters is keeping your child safe.

The question that you as a divorced parent may face is whether you should violate a custody order or agreement to protect your child. Currently, it seems that laws, regulations and standards are being modified or relaxed in response to the current disruption.

Assessing possible legal consequences

Everyone knows that violating a court order is not a good idea, and the consequences can be harsh. If a judge finds that you have violated the terms of an order without just cause, a parent can look at losing his or her custody rights entirely. However, consider if your former spouse tests positive for Covid-19, and you decide to keep your child at your home. This is an easy decision and I believe, the court would agree.

The decision is more difficult when your former spouse is not infected. But you may have concerns about whether your ex will practice responsible social distancing, whether your ex lives in a high-risk area, or whether he or she is a front line worker — hospital worker, police, fireman, etc.

Before deciding to not give a former spouse custody, you must look at what is in the best interest of the child just as any court would do. If you feel that it is in the best interest of your child to stay and isolate with you for a period or until the pandemic is over, be prepared to show proof to a judge.

Getting a professional opinion

Consider that you may not be in the best person to make this determination without getting some advice. What you can do is reach out to your mediator at Alpha Center who can guide you through the decision-making process and make sure that your custody rights are protected. In any case, please get professional advice.

Michael E Hughes, Esq. is an attorney-mediators for the Alpha Center for Divorce mediation. Click here to view his profile.