Co-parenting a child with your ex can be difficult even during the best of times. During the coronavirus pandemic, it has become particularly challenging. Attorney Gary R. Swavely, Jr. and the rest of our experienced team are helping parents in the Reading, PA area navigate this crisis as best they can.
Living With Fear
The only thing you can control during this pandemic is your own behavior. You decide who is allowed to enter your home. You determine what precautions you need to take when you venture out. You take care of your family members if they should become ill. Running a tight ship can help you maintain your sanity, and keep your family safe.
The idea of sending your child to someone else’s home, where you are not the coronavirus captain, can be panic-inducing. Even when you know the place your child will visit is full of people who love him or her just as much as you do, it still doesn’t feel as safe as your own home during this difficult time.
Typically, fear for a child’s safety is one of the key factors courts consider when evaluating child custody agreements. Does the fact that you are afraid your child will not be protected from COVID-19 at your ex’s home mean that you can ignore your current child custody agreement?
Child Custody Modification
If you and your ex have a good relationship, and agree that sharing physical custody is risky right now, feel free to work together to do what you both agree is best for your child at this time. Note in writing what modifications you are making, and when you will reevaluate things to see if you can go back to your normal agreement.
If you and your ex cannot agree on a modified child custody arrangement, we strongly advise you to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney like Gary Swavely. Getting an attorney involved may help smooth your negotiations, but it will definitely protect you from jeopardizing your parenting rights post-pandemic.
Whether you are fighting for or against a modification of your current child custody agreement, you need court approval to do anything your ex doesn’t agree with. This is difficult to get done in normal times because it requires very strong evidence that the current plan is not working. Right now, it is almost impossible to get done because the coronavirus has disrupted court operations.
You must be able to convince the courts that your child is in danger if you want to prevent your ex from getting their typical parenting time. If your ex is pushing to limit your time, you should be ready to prove that your child will be safe with you.
Working with an attorney is the best way to get the evidence you need to persuade the courts to take up your case.
Healthcare Workers Face Challenges
Unfortunately, the people who are on the front lines working to protect the rest of us from the virus are facing additional challenges when it comes to modifying or enforcing their custody agreements. Several judges have approved petitions to remove children from the homes of parents who work in the healthcare industry or have someone else in their home who does.
This is something we are closely monitoring. It is possible that lawmakers or the courts will step in with some guidance instead of allowing this to unfold on a case by case basis.