Tips for Handling Child Custody and Visitation During COVID-19

father and son

On top of everything happening at the present date with COVID-19, individuals may be dealing with circumstances surrounding child custody or visitation order. Below are some general recommendations that parents can do to help keep their children as safe as possible.

First, and foremost, parents should, to the best of their abilities, follow any and all recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as their respective local and/or state governments regarding preventative measures related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some Orders call for parenting time to occur in a public place. There are still ways to accomplish this during closures. Parents should not be denying parenting time because of COVID-19. Under North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s various Stay-in-Place Order, individuals are still able to participate in outdoor activity. Parents could take children to a public park or open outdoor area. However, it is important to remember that many playgrounds are closed right now because touching the various equipment can increase the spread of COVID-19. Instead, consider kicking a ball around, playing catch, or going for a walk. If this is not possible for your family, at minimum parenting time should be continued via videoconferencing or by telephone.

Maintaining a regular schedule for parenting time can be extremely important for both parents, and most importantly, the children. Do your best to keep the schedule you already had in place or maintain a new one. While court hearings are still limited, it does not mean that nothing can be done. If you are being denied parenting time, you may want to consider reaching out to an attorney.

Parents should be maintaining open and honest communication with each other about what they are doing to take precautions and keep their children safe from exposure to the coronavirus. If either a parent or party with custody or visitation rights has been exposed to COVID-19 or becomes symptomatic, that party should notify the other party should be notified as soon as possible. If direct communication is not allowed by your court order, a third party or some other form of notification should be used. Advice from healthcare providers should be followed and parties should do their best to work together in the best interest of the child.

It may also be a good idea to come up with a plan together about what will happen if someone is exposed to COVID-19, and subsequently, must self-quarantine for a period of time. This could alleviate pressure and stress if this situation were to occur, which would require immediate attention. While it’s not always easy, co-parenting, and remaining flexible during this time is extremely important for your child’s best interest.

If you have any concerns about your child custody or visitation order, please contact one of our attorneys at Jetton & Meredith.