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What Should You Do If You Have Shared Custody During a Pandemic?

With father again
By Andrew Leonatti on March 24, 2020 7:59 AM

The coronavirus pandemic has led to numerous business closures and restrictions on the size of gatherings across the country. Severe restrictions on everyday people's movements are in place in states like New York, Illinois, and California. Many other governors are starting to think about implementing the same restrictions too.

While many families are able to easily hunker down, what should you do if you share custody of your children with your ex?

You Likely Can Still Split Parenting Time

If you live near your ex, or even within driving distance, you can continue complying with your child custody order and not worry about breaking the law. No cities or states in America have banned entrances or exits.

In New York's new restrictions, people are still allowed to leave their homes for exercise or to go to the grocery store or pharmacy. Those same allowances exist in both California and in Illinois. If you live in those states, you are allowed to get in your car to drop off or pick up your child.

If you and your ex live far apart, air travel may be more difficult. While there are no bans on domestic air travel yet, most airlines are canceling many of their flights, so you may need to find other means to transport your children to their other parent.

Current Orders Stay in Place

In Texas, the Texas Supreme Court issued a policy directive stating that despite school closures, parents must comply with current child custody orders as they were originally written.

That means if your custody order states that you will have the children with you only during spring break, for example, they do not get to stay with you during this time of extended school closures. You must comply with the original dates.

While the above example pertains to Texas, it is likely that the situation will be the same for you, wherever you live. If you or your ex are going to violate the custody order, it is essential to contact an attorney first.

Remember to Communicate

A crisis like this — especially one with so much uncertainty — is bound to increase everyone's stress levels.

But just like any other custody issue, it is important to remember that open, honest, and transparent communication is almost always the key to finding agreement with your ex. That means talking about:

  • Whether the other parent can provide additional childcare while schools are closed
  • Who the children are allowed and not allowed to see during this time
  • What routines the children should have while out of school
  • What will happen if either you or your ex have to self-isolate due to a positive COVID-19 test or coming into contact with someone who tests positive

Remember that as parents, you are in this together. Keep your children out of any disagreements, and make sure that your focus remains on their health, safety, and well-being. Just like in any other challenge, good communication will help you get through this one, too.

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