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Child Custody and Divorce Lawyer in Los Angeles
COVID-19 and Child Custody
Parents who are sharing custody of their children should treat this crisis as an opportunity to co-
parent and work together to do what is in their children’s best interests and safe for their
families, rather than taking advantage of the other parent. Here are four guidelines for parents
sharing custody during the crisis.
1. STAY PHYSICALLY HEALTHY
Comply with all CDC and local and state guidelines for staying safe and healthy. If any family
members show symptoms of the virus such as coughing and high temperature, they should
follow local health orders and quarantine. It goes without saying that in this situation the usual
parenting plan should be suspended until everyone is safe and healthy. However, we know from
experience as family lawyers that some parents still selfishly insist on “their time” even when
their children have a fever and are too sick to be transported. Remember that time can always
be made up. Parents should be reasonable and exercise compassion and common sense. It is
important for parents to keep each other informed about any symptoms of contagious illness of
a parent, children or other household member.
2. STAY MENTALLY HEALTHY
You can be informed and stay calm at the same time. While children are resilient, protect them
from your anxieties and fears. Don’t leave the news on 24/7. Provide them with age-
appropriate information. For children and adults alike, the pandemic of 2020 will leave lasting
memories. Hopefully those memories will be of families pulling together.
3. MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO
This crisis is an opportunity to co-parent. In many jurisdictions, there are orders from the family
court administration that custody orders remain in full force as if school remains in session.
[Click her to read here the standing Order from Ventura County Family Court]. The idea is that
parenting plans should, as a rule, not be changed. Generally, if there are two healthy
households there is no reason why custody exchanges should not take place as normal as long
as the custody exchanges are safe and comply with local health orders. There may be
circumstances that mandate a change, for example, if an Order requires a custody exchange in
an enclosed public place that would violate a local or state order. There may also have to be
adjustments if an existing order requires supervised visitation. If parents agree to make a
temporary change to their parenting plan, they should reduce it to a written agreement. Parents
should note that for the duration of the crisis, most Court systems are closed or operating on a
limited basis. If there is a dispute, parents may have to resort to other forms of dispute
resolution such as mediation or private judging.
4. BE FLEXIBLE AND COMPASSIONATE
Everyone’s lives have been disrupted. Stay in place orders, the closure of schools and public
places and increased financial burdens on families will require parents to be flexible and make
accommodations. Parents should act with compassion and in the best interests of their
children. Parents should communicate with each to discuss whether they need to make
changes. Would it be a good idea to have more virtual visitation using platforms like Zoom or
facetime? If children are home from school, should they follow a parenting plan which is more
similar to a vacation schedule? What accommodations should be made for financial hardships
suffered by parents paying or receiving support. Any such adjustments should be reduced to a
written agreement and, preferably, filed with the Court. Family court judges expect reasonable
accommodations in highly unusual circumstances. After this is all over, judges may make
decisions about your parenting plan based on how you acted in this crisis.
Contact a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney at Law Offices of Warren R. Shiell to discuss your
Please call to make an appointment now 310.247.9913.
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