Changing Custody orders for COVID-19

The past few weeks have been difficult for many families. For some parents, the Coronavirus outbreak has limited opportunities to spend time with their children. Although much of the world is at a standstill during quarantine, child custody schedules are supposed to continue as planned. While this may not be fair for both parents, it may be necessary to start the process of changing custody orders for COVID-19 through mutual agreement with your ex or a court petition.

What is the Easiest Way to Change My Existing Custody Orders?

The easiest way to create and update a Coronavirus custody order is to talk with your child’s other parent. Express how any health concerns such as household exposure to COVID-19, proximity to large outbreaks, or the child’s pre-existing health conditions may require a different routine. Especially if one parent contracts COVID-19, it may safer to shift custody duties until the parent fully recovers. As always, adhere to the CDC and NJ Department of Health recommendations for you and your child’s safety.

It may also be easier for everyone involved if the child stays with one parent during this time. If that is the case, the parents may agree to future compensation arrangements with the child, like additional summer break visitation time. Be sure to make a plan that is best for your child’s safety, both mentally and with the Coronavirus in mind. If you and your ex negotiate new terms during the COVID-19 outbreak, put the agreement in writing and contact your child custody lawyers to document the changes.

What if My Ex Does Not Update the COVID-19 Custody Terms?

If your ex refuses to update your child custody terms, continue following the court-mandated schedule. Even though the Coronavirus has drastically changed life, the court order will remains intact unless otherwise stated. If you violate the terms, you may lose some of your parenting privileges or even be arrested.

In certain circumstances, you may file an Order to Show Cause petition for an emergency child custody hearing. These cases primarily deal with situations where the child’s health may be at-risk or your ex is defying Court Orders. When possible, this petition should be filed before the next custody exchange, so a judge is able to offer a timely decision. Possible COVID-19 custody modifications may include compensation time, revised visitation schedules and virtual accommodations.

What if None of this Works?

Although many factors are at play, you retain the right to spend time with your child per your existing custody schedule. If physical contact is not presently possible, consider using applications like Facetime, Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts to see and interact with your child digitally. While this may not be the preferred way to interact with your children during quarantine, it is a valuable opportunity to keep in contact and assure them life will eventually return to normal.

This is a difficult time for parents and children alike. The Moskowitz Law Group custody attorneys want to keep NJ parents and children together during the Coronavirus outbreak. Call us for a free consultation to help protect your child custody rights during COVID-19.

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