Family law cases are all about learning to adjust to new standards. Forgive me for using that phrase as we have heard it ad nauseum over the past few months; concerning family law cases, there will be some time for you and your family to have to adjust to your lives after your case has come to a close. Even though it won't feel like it during the case, your time in the family courts will end sooner rather than later. What you will be left with is the reality of living under court orders, some of which do not appeal to you all that much. Despite your opinion on the charges, what's your name signed on the dotted line? Those orders apply to you just as much as to your opposing party.
In a way, these family court orders are similar to the stay-at-home and social distancing orders set forth by governments since the beginning of this pandemic. You may have begrudgingly signed off on the family court orders just like you may have signed off in your mind on these social distancing orders. While you may disagree with the social distancing orders and the things they represent, that doesn't mean you are a sovereign citizen and do not have to follow them. They are emergency declarations and take on the same importance as laws.
In the same way, even though the family court orders are not enshrined into statutory law, they still function the same way for you and your opposing party. As such, you are better off being honest with yourself to consider any problems you are experiencing in your post-divorce or post-child custody life. Ignoring the issues you are having with your family court order can be highly problematic for you both in the short and long term.
I mean that if there are aspects of your court orders that you have problems adhering to, you need to be clear about this with your ex-spouse or co-parent. It may be that you can work out some compromise on the issues between yourselves rather than getting into a situation where you completely ignore the court orders to your detriment and the detriment of your co-parent or ex-spouse. I see this happen quite a bit, especially when it comes to a subject like a child support. Child support is already a touchy subject, but when you throw in a pandemic in economic uncertainty, it can become even more challenging to manage during times like this.
The reality of child support is that you are responsible for paying a set amount of money each month to your ex-spouse, no matter the circumstances. It does not matter if the economy goes in the tank or if you would lose your job or have your hours cut back. You cannot pick and choose how much you pay in any month and overpay for one month and then underpay for another. You are responsible for paying the set amount of child support to your ex-spouse at a particular time on a specific date each month. If you deviate from the schedule, you are technically in violation of the court order. This is a challenging position for you to be in, especially during times like these.
What you may be able to work on is some temporary change to your family court orders that allow YouTube to pay a lesser amount of child support each month until you can get back on your feet financially. This would allow you to remain on good terms with your opposing party while not ultimately putting yourself in a vulnerable position financially. The reality of the situation is that although your opposing party would like to have the total amount of child support paid to them each month, they cannot get blood from a turnip. This means that if you don't have the money to pay your light bill, then you will certainly not have the money to pay your child support obligation each month.
Instead, accepting a lesser amount of child support each month may be a prudent step for your former spouse to take while you attempt to gain secure footing in new employment or as you regain former work after a layoff. There are likely multiple circumstances ongoing in your life that could put you in a position where you or your opposing party would not be willing to take on this sort of scenario. A partial payment of child support would be acceptable. However, some of you may be able to make these sorts of modifications on the fly, and it may work out best for you to do this rather than head to court in an attempted modification case.
Child custody orders, like those dealing with child support, can be some of the most difficult to follow for families after a family law case has been completed. Getting back to what we were discussing at the beginning of today's blog post, it can be challenging for a family to suddenly adhere to rules and structures when it comes to raising children that were never dealt with previously. All of the preparation in the world and all the counseling from your attorney that they are offering cannot fully prepare you for moving under child custody orders after a difficult in a hard-fought family law case. This does not mean that you would willingly break or disobey orders; it just means that you are human and not always used to living under someone else’s rules.
This is why I believe there is a direct parallel between the stay-at-home and social distancing orders set forth by government and child custody orders. For the most part, all of us are in the unfamiliar position of adhering to previously unthinkable rules, and we could not prepare for them adequately. Being told that we cannot go certain places at certain times and that our movements will be restricted in any way is entirely foreign to most Americans. Likewise, having you are parental rights and duties defined and having the amount of time that she can spend with your child limited by court order is utterly foreign to most of us as well.
With that said, family court orders surrounding child custody exist to help keep your family safe and healthy after a family law case has concluded. In recent memory, I can think of no other time for health and safety to be at the top of your list of priorities than right now. Health and safety are certainly at the forefront of most people's lives right now as a concern. As such, I would anticipate that you are at least a little concerned about your family's health and safety and would like to take steps to be proactive about protecting it.
In today's blog post, I would like to provide you with some helpful tips on keeping your family safe and healthy while following a child custody order in Texas. While some of the advice may be simpler to follow than other pieces, I am willing to bet that you will go to great lengths to protect your children in their health. The advice that I will be provided in today's blog post transcends time no matter if we were in a pandemic or not. I think the information that we will discuss will be relevant to you and your family during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
Take simple precautions to make sure that your children get enough sleep.
It may sound silly to talk about sleep in conjunction with a child custody order. Still, it has been shown that the ability of a child to get enough sleep each night is an essential factor when determining their health—as such, helping your child maintain a consistent and stable sleep schedule is crucial to their development. You will want to do what you can to help ensure that your child gets all the sleep they need while also following the custody arrangements outlined in your child custody orders. When life gets busy, this can be easier said than done, but as we are now in the middle of flu season, I think it is essential for us to consider this.
For instance, you and your ex-spouse should look at your family court orders and determine the best way to go about transportation and logistics for picking up and dropping off your child. If you can follow the court orders as far as when pickup and drop-off should occur, then that would probably be for the best. On the other hand, if those arrangements do not work for your family, you may need to modify them on the fly depending on factors like school schedules, work schedules, and the specific needs of your children. You may find that what worked for you all, in theory, does not work so well in practice.
For example, let's say that your child has an extracurricular commitment through school that mandates they have late nights on Fridays throughout the school year. It could be that your child plays high school football, and you had assumed that since his games finished in the early to late evening on Fridays, he would drive directly to your home after games to spend the weekend with you. However, as you have seen throughout the season, your son is exhausted after games and cannot safely drive from the school or his other parent's house to your home. Therefore, it may be better for visitation periods to begin on a Saturday morning so that he can get a good night's sleep after playing a game.
This is something simple that you and your co-parent can work on together regardless of your position on other subjects. Neither of you wants your child to miss any more sleep than they ordinarily do. Neither of you wants to be driving late at night or early in the morning or have your child did the same. As a result, you all may need to make adjustments here and there to accommodate your child's sleep schedule.
We have been talking about older children in their sleep but your younger children getting enough sleep is just as important. Younger children have a lot more development in terms of their brains and bodies in their early years than older children. This means that if your child is not getting enough sleep, they may be at a disadvantage in their development. You do not want to hinder your child's development from adhering to the family court orders. You should speak directly to your spouse about your concerns and see if they are on board with making these modifications on an informal basis.
Suppose they are not in agreement with you that your child's sleep schedule needs to take precedence over other subjects. In that case, you may need to go around that problem and file a modification request with the court requesting that the child custody orders be modified to accommodate your child's sleep needs. This does not mean that you have to get aggressive or combative with your ex-spouse in one of these cases, but it does mean that you need to stick up for your child in their development. Adults understand the importance of sleep, and the same should be said for their children. I can think of nothing more straightforward and more essential to your child's health than getting a good night's rest each night.
Keep your child safe within reason by limiting exposure during this pandemic.
I will begin this section of the blog by noting that I am not a doctor and have no formal training in anything related to this virus or its spread. I am just an attorney with kids of my own who is offering his opinion on these subjects. However, it seems to me that everyone agrees that maintaining a relatively small social circle during this pandemic is a good idea if you want to limit the spread of the virus. With that said, you should seek to expose your children to as few people as possible during your periods of possession to minimize the risk that they get sick or they get someone else sick.
This does not mean that you should stay home and limit the activities that your child engages in. Instead, it would help if you were thinking about what activities you and your child engage in while they are in your possession. Given the relatively mild winters that we have here in Southeast Texas, I think it is an excellent idea for you to have fun with your child outdoors in a setting where both of you can get exercise. Inviting neighbors, friends, and family into these outdoor get-togethers only adds to the fun. I don't know that anyone out there would advise against enjoying the outdoors during a pandemic.
As far as how to keep your child safe during indoor activities, we have already gotten past a Thanksgiving holiday during the pandemic, and I would imagine that you will handle your Christmas holiday in much the same way. This means doing as much as you can outdoors, ensuring that your home or place of get-together is reasonably well ventilated, and helping your child to eat well can all lead to a happy and memorable holiday season.
Taking into account these simple measures will go a long way towards helping you feel more at ease when it comes to keeping your family safe and healthy during the pandemic. No one among us has been perfect in taking steps to minimize our exposure to risk during this pandemic. However, we can tank reasonable measures to protect ourselves and others even when we're dealing with a child custody order that poses some amount of risk to our families. This has always been the case and will continue to be the case as long as families obtain court orders.
Questions about the material presented in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material presented in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the services provided to our clients by our attorneys and staff. I appreciate your interest in our law practice, and we hope you will join us again tomorrow as we continue to post additional information on family law for Texas families.