Child custody and visitations are sensitive subjects at the best of times.
With the global pandemic raging on, the subject becomes downright scary.
We all want to keep our kids safe, but we also want to make sure we’re
being fair when it comes to joint custody. Here are some helpful tips
for navigating visitations during COVID-19.
1. Follow General Safety Guidelines
When picking up or dropping off the kids, wear a mask. Make sure everyone
else is masked, too. Although it’s reasonable to assume that not
everyone will be masked once they’re settled into the next location,
it’s still a good idea to stay safe at your pickup and drop off points.
Have everyone do a temperature check before exchanging the kids. Infrared
thermometers have become far more accessible and affordable. Some can
be purchased for as little as $13. Before handing the kids over, have
everyone in the custody chain check their temperature. If any one person
in the chain is showing a fever, it’s probably a good idea to get
everyone into quarantine for a couple weeks and try again next time.
Have former partners regularly update one another on symptoms and exposure.
Be aware of times when someone has been in a gathering. Stay in good communication
about symptoms. The more parents talk, the safer everyone will be.
2. Get Tested Regularly
The Harris County/Houston area has plenty of free
testing sites you can visit. Try to coordinate with everyone in the contact chain to
get tested a few days before parents exchange the child. Most places are
using the swipe instead of the deep, uncomfortable testing, so the biggest
sacrifice will just be time and scheduling.
Courts will generally allow temporary suspensions of visiting rights due
to illness. If someone in the chain of custody tests positive, make sure
to send the documentation to the court and lawyers, and quarantine for
a couple weeks.
3. Make New Arrangements
Generally, courts will allow parents to alter visitation orders as long
as everyone agrees to the new terms. COVID-19 has impacted parents’
lives, sometimes to the point of no longer being able to keep up with
the current visitation arrangements. If this is the case, try to make
a new arrangement with the other parent. Get that new arrangement in writing,
and submit it to lawyers and courts. The paper trail will keep everyone
4. Follow the Original Court Orders
When all else fails, stick to the original court orders. There are former
partners out there who will just refuse to renegotiate, and there’s
nothing that can be done. Courts hand down their judgements because they
expect those judgements to be followed. The non-custodial parent has their
rights, and so does the custodial one. Stick to the plan. The last thing
anyone needs is a contempt charge for refusing to cooperate with court orders.
5. Don’t Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
It’s worth repeating – stick to the court orders. Courts generally
allow parents to raise their children how they see fit. When one parent
isn’t being very cautious about COVID-19, there really isn’t
anything the other parent can do about it. The parent who has possession
of the child is the one who makes the rules. No matter how reasonable
or justified it seems, it is a very bad idea to try to circumvent another
parent’s visitation rights. It may seem like a safer solution at
the time, but it can lead to real legal trouble in the future.
When it comes to visitation in the time of COVID-19, use common sense.
Don’t take any unnecessary risks, and don’t try to block anyone’s
right to see their children.
If you have concerns about your rights as a parent, or if you have a partner
who is blocking your visitation, we can help. Consultations are free and
there’s no risk involved, so call today at (713) 936-2300 or contact us online.