Impact of Coronavirus on NJ Family Law and Child Custody Cases

At Moskowitz Law Group, LLC, we are getting a lot of questions from clients about what they do with the current custody order that they have. We are having people ask, “Do we still exchange the children on the same schedule?” and “What impact does this have on our child custody?” The simple answer right now is that parents should continue following the court order. This is an evolving epidemic, as such, it may be difficult to fully gauge the impact of coronavirus on NJ family law and child custody.

What is The Impact on Child Custody?

There’s a judicial state of emergency and the New Jersey courts are operating remotely.  However, nothing that has been issued affects any current court orders. So, if you have an existing custodial schedule, follow the order. It is unwise to use this situation to try to get a leg up in the custody case. You must look at the exact terms of the current New Jersey lockdown to see if custodial exchanges can still take place.

How Has the Custody Schedule Changed?

We potentially see that many custody orders have a schedule for the school year and a different schedule for the summer. So, now that Governor Murphy has ordered that schools remain closed for the remainder of the school year. This has left many parents questioning whether there is an automatic shift to the summer schedule.  In fact, many summer camps will remain closed as well to prevent the spread of the virus. We can only hope that schools will re-open in September but that is going to depend on what the order is that comes out from the school system and it’s also going to depend on what other emergency orders are in place. With all of these uncertainties parents are questioning what to do.

What if the Other Parent Refuses to Give Me Our Child?

Parents often ask if they are able to go to court in the event that the other parent refuses to hand over the child. The answer is that it depends on the judge. Each judge is given discretion to decide what an emergency is. In the event that your child’s other parent refuses to hand over custody when required, an emergency application, known as an Order to Show Cause can be filed. Some parents are hesitant to seek the Court’s intervention and believe that because the Court is physically closed to the public they are not operational. It is important to note that New Jersey Courts are operating remotely and accepting applications.  Judges take very seriously issues pertaining to the well-being of children pandemic or not.

What if a Parent or Child is Immunocompromised?

Another common concern during this pandemic is what if a parent or a child is immunocompromised. How do you know is it safe for us to continue with regular exchanges? Separate parents should increase communication during the coronavirus situation. While it can be complicated to communicate with an ex, it is important to be honest with the other parent about what’s going on with your health and the child’s health. You’re going to have to make decisions together that are in the best interests of your child. If you already have, or are making an agreement or having a disagreement about whether to exchange for health reasons, it is essential to document this. If you and your child’s other parent are talking on the phone, after the phone call, send an email detailing what was said.

Can We Consult a Family Lawyer During Coronavirus?

As a reminder, the office of Moskowitz Law Group, LLC is open if you have questions about interpreting your order or questions about whether or not you can get into court and whether the court is going to consider your case an emergency. You can contact us now, as we’re here to help you navigate your family law case. The courts are accepting filing, so if something comes up and you want to file for a modification of custody, or want a file contempt against the other parent to withhold the child. Call right away to get started.

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