Child Custody & Visitation During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents everywhere have been faced with numerous questions regarding custody and visitation (in Florida, respectively referred to as “parental responsibility” and “time-sharing”). Do you need to follow the plan exactly as written? What happens if you, your child, or their other parent gets sick? How will remote learning affect the arrangement?
Certain courts have issued rules specifically addressing how child custody and visitation should be handled during the COVID-19 pandemic (for example, the 18th Judicial Circuit, which serves Brevard and Seminole Counties in Florida, has released guidelines that can be found here). If your case is being heard by a court that has already addressed the topic, you should follow those rules.
Otherwise, here are some helpful tips on how to approach child custody and visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Stick to the agreement. Unless your custody and visitation order has been modified by the court, you should follow it as closely as possible to avoid being held in contempt or otherwise penalized later on. An attorney can help you petition for a modification (or even an emergency order, if needed).
- Work together. So long as there aren’t any domestic violence or other safety concerns at play, you should try to be flexible and work with the other parent to ensure that they can still maintain a relationship with your child. This doesn’t only benefit the other parent—your child will also enjoy getting to spend time with their mom or dad, and it may help them feel more reassured during this stressful time.
- Think outside the box. This goes along with cooperation. If the other parent is feeling under the weather and doesn’t want to risk spreading germs to your child, for example, is there something they could do besides the originally planned visit? Maybe they could talk on the phone, video chat, or play an online game together.
Tampa Bay’s Premier Family Law Firm
If you have questions about how to handle custody and visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can turn to the Law Offices of Audrey A. Jefferis, P.A. With offices in New Port Richey, FL, and Palm Harbor, FL, we proudly serve clients from throughout the Tampa Bay area. Our skilled family law attorneys can answer your questions, provide you with customized advice, and help you petition for a modification or other relief, if needed. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.