How to Handle Child Custody and Visitation During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Navigating child custody during normal day-to-day life can be difficult on its own. But, in a time when New Jersey residents are required to stay in their homes and limit interactions among one another, it can further complicate an already confusing child custody arrangement. Parents have a lot of questions about child custody during COVID-19 and may not know where to find answers.
Understanding New Jersey Social Distancing Rules
On March 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy enacted social distancing rules that prohibit group gatherings and certain non-essential businesses. These social distancing rules mean that individuals should stay home, unless frequenting an essential business. When in public, individuals should stay a minimum of six feet from one another.
Impact of NJ Social Distancing Rules on Child Custody Agreements
When residents of New Jersey are told to distance themselves from one another, how does that affect child custody agreements? Fortunately, if you have a prior child custody agreement in place, New Jersey’s social distancing rules do not apply to it. You should still follow the child custody plan that is already in place.
However, there are a few situations that could complicate your child custody agreement, including:
- Someone in the family has been exposed to the virus
- Someone in the family is showing symptoms of the virus
- One of the parents has a high-risk, essential job
- Any of the family members, especially one of the children, are considered high-risk
The state of New Jersey has always prioritized the safety and wellbeing of the children when evaluating a child custody agreement. It is important to continue doing that throughout the COVID-19 crisis. If one parent has been exposed to the virus or is considered an essential worker, then it might make sense for the other parent to take temporary custody. Temporary custody does not require that you re-file. Your spouse and you can always go back to the previous agreement when the crisis is over.
Denying Visitation Rights During COVID-19
Mutual agreement is important if you and your ex spouse determine that the children should spend the majority of their time in one household. Failing to follow previously set child custody agreements can lead to legal difficulties and is considered a contempt of court. The outbreak does not permit one, or both, parents to ignore a child custody agreement.
When to Discuss Your Child Custody Agreement With a Lawyer
It can feel overwhelming navigating COVID-19 and child custody questions in a time when most government buildings are closed to the public. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement or you’re worried about the wellbeing and safety of your children during this time, it might be useful to discuss your case with a family lawyer.
While the initial consultation process might look different when many physical law firms are closed, we are still open for consultation via telecommuting practices. Additionally, if there is an emergency concern, it is possible to schedule a new hearing with a judge remotely. These are trying times for everyone and we understand each case is unique. We welcome you to reach out to us with any questions you have about child custody during the outbreak.
Contact a Marlton Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Child Custody During COVID-19 in New Jersey Today
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or division of assets, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Cordry Hartman, LLC represent clients throughout the state, including Evesham Township, Mount Laurel, Cinnaminson, and Collingswood, New Jersey. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 235-4511 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 68 E. Main Street, Moorestown, NJ 08057.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.