Our families are currently faced with an unprecedented level of strain and uncertainty. Under ideal circumstances navigating custody, child support and effectively coparenting is a difficult task. Now, more than ever, I encourage my clients to pause and take a deep breath before acting or reacting to a situation involving your ex and your children.
Recently, the North Carolina Family Court Advisory Commission issued recommendations and guidelines for attorneys and parents when evaluating custody and/or visitation agreements and court orders in the context of the COVID-19 restrictions issued by Governor Roy Cooper. The Commission’s stated goal is “to encourage the parties to follow their parenting plan and/or custody order as closely as possible to ensure a level of consistency and stability that is in the best interest of the child(ren)” April 2020 Custody and Visitation Recommendations.
Although Governor Cooper’s order limits travel unless it is deemed essential, parents remain permitted to travel for the purposes of complying with an existing custody arrangement.
The existence of COVID-19 is not a reason to deny parenting time. So long as each parent is following the recommended health precautions visitation should occur as outlined in an agreement, court order or parenting plan. However, if a family member becomes sick or is exposed to an individual who is positive for COVID-19, appropriate notification to the other parent and healthcare provider is essential. Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations and when safe, resume visitation and/or custody exchanges.
The full text of the Family Court Advisory Commission’s recommendations can be accessed at www.nccourts.gov/courts/family-court.
It is essential to note, if you have a Domestic Violence Protective Order which contains custody provisions be sure to check with your attorney or domestic violence advocate prior to making any adjustments to the schedule outlined in your protective order.
When interacting with the other parent, remember your co-parent is likely just as stressed, tired and scared of COVID-19 as you are, and he/she genuinely wants to make the right choices to keep your children safe. Your children will benefit from the consistency you and your co-parent can provide. In the end, a bit of extra patience and understanding will go a long way to diffusing the extra stress COVID-19 has put on us as parents and our children.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and not to be taken as legal advice, nor to establish an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Jennifer Fleet or Weaver | Budd, Attorneys at Law. Submit questions for The Fine Print to: email@example.com.