In case holiday custody struggles weren’t already hard enough, 2020 brought us COVID-19. COVID-19 has highlighted serious disagreements between co-parents, whether they disagree on the severity of COVID-19, how best to keep their children safe from it, or their role in limiting its spread.
At the holidays, when many people gather in multi-family celebrations, the risk of contracting COVID-19 is even higher. What do you do if your co-parent doesn’t take steps to protect your child from COVID-19 or your coparent thinks they have the right to keep your child from you because of the pandemic?
These are complex issues with no clear-cut answers. Learn more about holiday custody issues and for more personalized advice, contact Coumanis & York at 251-260-3927.
Don’t Stop Following Your Custody Agreement
If you are considering keeping your child at home because of unsafe holiday arrangements at your co-parent’s house, do not do so without a change in the custody agreement or written confirmation from your co-parent. You simply do not have the unilateral right to change custody arrangements without the approval of your co-parent or the court.
Recognize Risk Factors and Take Note of Them
Regardless of which side of the dispute you are on, take note of the risk factors of COVID-19 spread and try to understand your co-parent’s point of view. If you believe they are too cavalier about the disease and take unnecessary risks, jot those down and provide examples. You may use this when you speak to your lawyer. If you think your co-parent is being too harsh about their COVID-19 restrictions and you believe they may withhold visitation because of it, note the steps you take to keep your child safe and how you plan to protect them over the holidays.
Collaboration is Ideal
As is the case with virtually any custody dispute, collaboration is the best way to go whenever possible. No matter how different your points of view may be, it comes down to you both wanting what is best for your children. You may have different ideas about how to get there, but the goal is the same.
Approach any discussions with your ex-partner with this in mind. Rather than going after them about how they are hurting you or how they are endangering your child, approach them with the sense that you are in this together and you can work out an agreement that benefits everyone. In many cases, simply being acknowledged and included in the conversation is enough to create space for an agreement.
Look for Alternatives
In some cases, compromise simply isn’t possible. Consider a case where the custodial parent is immunocompromised and truly cannot risk getting COVID-19 because their risk of dying is so high. In this case, a court order for temporary custody changes may be required. However, try to be flexible and find ways for your child to spend time with loved ones in a safe manner. Virtual visitation is an option. You may also want to “trade” the holidays for extended visitation when the pandemic has ended.
How Your Lawyer Can Help
No matter where you are in this process or what side you fall on, you need to discuss it with your attorney. Your attorney can review your custody agreement and help you find options. They may help you draft a letter to your co-parent asking for cooperation or assistance, and if that fails, they can help you pursue legal remedies.
This is a difficult time, and it is particularly challenging for co-parents who have to navigate custody and visitation. Try to extend grace to yourself and your co-parent, but do not back down from what is best for your child.
Turn to Coumanis & York for Help with Your Custody Case
Are you facing serious custody issues over COVID-19? You aren’t alone. Parents all over the country are in the same situation you are in. Coumanis & York is here to help you fight for what is right. To schedule a consultation, call our team at 251-260-3927 or . We are ready to go to work for you!