The current COVID-19 pandemic has provided many challenges for parents sharing custody of their child(ren).
Having a successful custody parenting plan is important and includes a couple being able to effectively co-parent in order to keep the best interest of the child(ren) in mind. Some examples of effective co-parenting include:
- Reaching solutions together or through mediation.
- Parents can resolve minor issues on their own or through mediation and only litigate through the Courts on critical matters that put into question the best interest of the child(ren).
- Agreeing to COVID-19 best practices. (Based on the most current information available)
- Parents should be doing what they can in order to reduce the risk of COVID transmission by agreeing on which friends and family the child(ren) can visit, promote social distancing, and requiring masks.
- Agreeing on the child(ren)’s education together.
- Parents should decide whether they will homeschool, supervise virtual learning, or send their child(ren) to in-person classes while keeping in mind the child(ren)’s academic needs, social needs, and overall psychological well-being.
- Having a plan for possible periods of quarantine.
- Having a quarantine plan in place BEFORE you need it is key. If a child or another household member has to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure or a positive test result, having a plan as to what works best for both parents will help make the quarantine period less stressful.
What if Parents Can’t Reach an Agreement?
If the Parents are unable to agree on child custody changes, the Courts require one of the parents to prove that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred and that modifying a current Child Custody Order is in the child(ren)'s best interest. It is my experience that merely proposing COVID-19 as a change has not been enough to support a Modification absent additional support.
Reasons for a Modification in a Child Custody Order
Some reasons that may support a Modification include, but are not limited to:
- A parent’s employment has changed, resulting in:
- A parent not being able to provide stable housing,
- Not having appropriate supervision for the child(ren) due to remote learning and/or employment situation, or
- A parent not being available/able to maintain the child(ren)’s learning in a remote-learning situation.
- A parent being laid off from work.
- A parent no longer having the support of the family/friends they had prior to pandemic restrictions.
- A parent suffering from addiction or mental illness and that the parent is no longer able to care for the child(ren) the same and the child(ren)’s physical and/or mental health and wellbeing are in jeopardy.
Do you need guidance on modifications to your current Child Custody Parenting Plan or need to create a new Parenting Plan?
If you are struggling with child custody and are not sure how to make changes in the best interest of your child(ren), please call our office at 214-559-7202 or contact us online to speak with one of our qualified Child Custody attorneys.