Divorcing with Children in New Jersey during COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the daily schedules and domestic routines of many families, especially those going through a divorce. If you are undergoing these complex proceedings, you should ensure that you have a knowledgeable legal advocate at your side who can offer valuable advice to protect your children’s best interests during your divorce. Contact a legal professional if you have questions regarding New Jersey legal protocols for divorces and children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Modifying Parenting Schedules in the Pandemic

Any legal agreement involving children is always subject to modification upon a showing of a change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the children. The law takes into account that parents’ and children’s schedules often change, and unforeseen circumstances can render original plans irrelevant. The best way to resolve a parenting schedule issue is for both parties to come to an agreement, often with the assistance of a skilled attorney.

If the parents cannot resolve the issue on their own, they will have to file an application in court, which could lead to lengthy litigation. In these cases, it is crucial to enlist a New Jersey lawyer who has experience handling similar cases and presenting the necessary evidence, particularly under the circumstances of the pandemic. However, if the parties do reach an agreement on the change, they should have an attorney draft a consent order to file with the court, so that their decision is memorialized. A consent order is a enforceable court order that reflects the parties’ agreement.

How Do Shelter in Place Orders Affect Visitation?

Quarantine orders have placed some strain on parents trying to abide by their visitation schedules, but there are ways for children to travel between their divorced parents’ homes while following the state’s health guidelines. Unless there are exigent circumstances, the parties would maintain their usual parenting time. This means that the children may travel between homes, but they will both have to adhere to all quarantine orders in effect. If one party is violating the custody parenting time agreement, the courts are bound to enforce them, even during quarantine.

Virtual School and Parenting Time

When a divorce involving children is being finalized during the pandemic, there needs to be provisions in place if the children are attending school virtually, as well as an agreed-upon arrangement for when the children return to school.

In the short term, logistically, the parents should take measures to ensure that their children who are attending school virtually do not overhear the ongoing divorce proceedings, and that there is a technological device available for the parents to privately participate in the virtual hearings. They should also ensure that internet access is available for all family members who need it.

In the long-term, parents should account for situations involving their children’s education beyond virtual schooling. For example, if the children are attending virtual school, and both parents are working from home and available, there may be more flexibility in terms of the parenting schedule. This means that the parents could share in the virtual schooling responsibilities but would have to have a plan in place for who takes on a more hands-on role if either work or school resumes in-person.

Ways to Ensure Children’s Safety During Pandemic

To reduce their children’s risk of infection during the pandemic, divorcing parents should prioritize communication with each other. They should apprise each other of any type of safety risks and adjust their schedules to keep their children and themselves as safe as possible. It is beneficial to their children in the long run for parents to remain on the same page regarding their family’s health.

Reach Out to a New Jersey Attorney to Help Keep Your Children Safe During Your COVID-19 Divorce

The pandemic has made divorces even more stressful, and your health and the health of your children should be your primary priority during the legal process. A New Jersey attorney can ease your concern while your divorce involving children is being finalized and ensure that the impact of COVID-19 does not prevent you from obtaining your desired outcome in your case. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more.

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