In early April, Georgia’s governor issued a stay-at-home order for the state. While the order limits people from leaving their homes for most reasons, it doesn’t supersede existing custody orders. That means, at least in situations where the child and both custodial parents are healthy and showing no signs of COVID-19, the normal custody schedule should continue.
Of course, nothing is truly normal about this time, and routines—even if they help children feel more comfortable in an anxious age—may have to be adjusted for health and safety reasons. The idea is to keep a hard-won custody agreement in place, allowing for a close, regular connection to both parents. But there are circumstances where the agreement may need to be temporarily renegotiated.
If you’re able, now is the time to have an honest discussion with your child’s other parent about how you’ll weather this pandemic as a multi-household family. Try not to add to your child’s anxiety by arguing. Keep in mind that you have two primary goals:
If anyone in either household is sick with possible COVID-19 symptoms, you should reschedule upcoming visits. But if everyone is healthy, what you decide to do may depend on a number of factors:
After you take stock of your family’s circumstances, you may be able to stick to your typical arrangement. But you may also decide, as painful as it is for everyone, that there’s too big of a risk involved. If that’s the case, you may create a temporary change in the schedule, perhaps with a makeup visit after the stay-at-home order ends.
If you and your child’s other parent decide to temporarily change your custody schedule, it can be incredibly difficult. The parent retaining custody may be struggling to maintain a job, educate from home and care for a child. The parent temporarily without visitation may fear losing connection.
If you’re separated from your children, keep in touch through video calls. Play games over the phone. Send letters. Hold a movie night where you both watch the same film. Remember that this separation won’t last forever.
While some people in high-risk professions are isolating themselves from their families, this isn’t a fit for everyone. You’ve probably also heard by now of people in frontline healthcare roles suddenly having their shared custody suspended—solely because of their profession.
Changes to the custody arrangement should be something that both parents can agree on. If you’ve temporarily lost custody because of your high-risk job, you’ll want to speak to a Marietta custody attorney immediately. Conversely, if you feel that your spouse is behaving recklessly regarding social distancing, you’ll want to take the appropriate steps to protect your children.
This is a challenging time for everyone, but for parents who are trying to make shared custody work, it can bring additional stress. We’re here to talk through any issues you’re experiencing with your custody arrangement.
The custody attorneys at Bivek, Brubaker & Prescott LLC have years of experience. Our goal is to help create and maintain an arrangement that’s in the best interests of the kids involved. Contact us or call (404) 793-6530 today to speak with one of our highly qualified attorneys.