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Child Custody and Visitation after the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak

Whether or not we are past the peak other COVID-19 outbreak or not is not the purpose of our discussion today on the blog. What I would like to discuss is how child custody and visitation may need to look different after we have dealt with a pandemic that most of us never believed we would ever have to encounter during our lives. This pandemic has forced us to reevaluate what is most important to us and determine how our parenting in family wives may change once the worst of the pandemic is behind us. 

From what I have seen, parents are more understanding of the issues presented by this pandemic now than they were four months ago. Many believe that the pandemic would either fizzle out on its own after a relatively short period of time or that it was going to be something which had even more of a dramatic effect on our area than it already has. Without a doubt the health and safety of our community is important on a macro level but on a personal level your ability to raise your children and build relationships with them is what will be most important to all of us as individuals. 

I'd like to direct the emphasis of today's blog post towards helping you and your family adjust to life for the last weeks of summer heading into the school year. Obviously, changes can still happen Over the next few weeks in terms of how and when our children are going to begin school in the fall. Many if not most school districts and schools in our area have indicated that they will start on time and will make modifications to the school year if necessary, as time goes on. What we should talk about then is how are the two issues of child custody and visitation could look for the rest of the summer and into the fall and winter months. 

Child custody post COVID-19 

Child custody refers to a combination of possession and custody rights in relation to your children. What we see with custody in a divorce or actual child custody case is that parents typically focus mainly on the time aspects of parenting. When you our first forced to encounter not being able to spend as much time as you want with the children Then it is understandable that this would be the focus of most family law cases.

However, I believe that it is just as important for parents to focus on the ability to make decisions and hold rights related to raising their children. Determining how and where your child goes to school in the types of medical treatment, he or she receives are always very important. I hope that, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all come to understand a little bit more clearly just how important it is for parents to be able to make these type of educational and medical decisions for their children. Our children need our help in this regard now more than ever. 

So, child custody cannot merely be looked at from the lens of time or rights and duties. It is just as important to look at this topic as one that impacts many areas of our lives in both the short and long term. In the short term, you need to be able to work together with your co-parent when it comes to determining what is best for your child in regard to educational and medical decisions. For instance, if your child school district or to say that they were not going to hold school in person for the next year is that something that you are comfortable with, the idea of your child attending school online for at least one year may be enough for some parents 212 move their child into a private school or nontraditional school that offers classes in person rather than online. How does your co-parent feel about this issue? If you do not know then you need to find out.

The only way you can discover your co-parents’ feelings about these sort of topics is to ask him or her. Have these communication sessions in advance of problems arising and you will be better off. Remember, the purpose of co-parenting is to be able to present a united front to your child in to allow for better decisions to be made for his or her upbringing. By acknowledging the contributions that your Co parent can make in regard to raising your child you are engaging in a much healthier and more stable structure for your child when it comes to parenting. 

The medical side of custody changes after the COVID-19 peak are readily apparent as well. If your child needs any kind of immunizations prior to the new school year starting, then you and your Co parent may have been putting off taking him or her to the doctor due to concerns over getting sick from other persons at the doctor's office. I can tell you that my wife and I did not take our child for her yearly checkup on the date that she was scheduled to go. Rather, we decided to wait rather than take her during the peak of the crisis. 

In our situation this wasn't something that ended up hurting our child. Luckily, she is healthy and has no conditions that would make us raise an eyebrow or have concern over her health from having missed a yearly checkup. However, if you and your co-parent find yourself in a situation where your child has health issues that need regular review by a doctor then you need to be able to work together and figure out how to share decision-making abilities in this regard. 

In emergency situations it is likely that you and your co-parent would still be able to make independent choices about potentially lifesaving medical treatment. However, since the peak of this virus your opinions may have changed in regard to how are their rights and duties should be shared in relation to medical treatment. If that is the case then you are may need to explore whether or not it is in your child's best interest to modify any prior custody orders so that you may be able to be in a better position to have your order reflect your current feelings on custody rights and medical treatment for your child. 

Possible changes in visitation structure after the COVID-19 peak 

For most families in our area visitation changes during the pandemic have probably been the most widespread. At least initially during the pandemic our government instituted various stay at home orders that restricted or outright banned travel of various kinds. If you live outside the state of Texas and typically drive or fly into the state in order to have visitation time with your child, you may have been unable to do that for stretches of time during this pandemic. On the other hand, if you live out of state and your child from Texas was supposed to come and visit you that may have proved to be difficult considering some states put quarantines in place on any persons from Texas who would come to states in the northeast, for example.

With this backdrop in mind it is important to note that families of all kinds have had to deal with changes in visitation due to the reality is presented by this virus. We haven't even mentioned what would happen If you or your child were to get sick and how visitation would need to be altered at least on a temporary basis because of and illness. This is not something that only comes up during pandemics, but it is incredibly important to discuss, nonetheless.

If your visitation time with your child needed to be adjusted during the pandemic due to illness, then I would imagine that this time period is one in which you and your family are having to communicate with one another about rescheduling visitation sessions prior to the beginning of the school year. The reason why I think it is so important for Visitation schedules to be made up right now is that it is easier to arrange a make-up visitation schedule during the summer that it would be during the school year. With more time commitments to a child schedule there is less time for visitation to occur as a result. The summer is a much more open time. Or longer stretches of visitation can be made up easier. 

So, you should speak with your co-parent about how you all want to manage any make up visitation scheduling that is necessary. If a parent or child were sick for long stretches of time, then you may not be able to pack all of the makeup visitation into the next few weeks before the school year begins. If that is the case, then you need to have a schedule drawn up that will allow for visitation To remain up during the school year. It may be that extra weekends are provided to the parent who was denied time during the summer due to illness. 

Avoiding Holidays as potential periods of time where makeup visitation can occur is likely going to be desirable. The reason being is that there is plenty of time to make up visitation that would involve the few holiday breaks the children get during the school year. In my opinion, if you need to make up time with your child then you should make changes to your schedule or speak with your Co parent about doing it during the school year and not during Holidays. 

Closing thoughts on child custody and Visitation after the peak of COVID-19 

the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted different people to different degrees. If you or someone in your family got sick from the virus then It is safe to say that you bore the brunt of its impact much more acutely. For the rest of us, the impacts from the shutdowns likely meant mask requirements and other social distancing measure. Regardless, we have all had to make changes to our lives as a result of the virus and it is probable that you had to do the same as parents after the COVID-19 pandemic has peaked. 

My advice is to work with your co-parent directly on coordinating any changes to your parenting plan that have come about due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not worth coming up with plans and ideas and not sharing them with your co-parent. It takes two people to come up with temporary modifications to an order and that means you and your co-parent actually have to discuss the changes before they go into effect. And if you are not willing or able to do this then your child will be the one to bear the brunt have any miscommunication. 

On a long term basis, if you believe that you were in a position where the best interests of your child are impacted adversely by a child custody or divorce decree in regard to Visitation or child custody, then you should begin to do research on hiring an attorney who can assist you in formally modifying that court order. Sometimes, you are able to negotiate through any changes that need to be made on a temporary basis with your co-parent. However, many times there will be instances where you may need to negotiate these changes with the assistance of an attorney. 

Questions about child custody and Visitation after the COVID-19 pandemic passes? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan 

If you have any questions regarding the material contained 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 consultations six days a week here in our office, over the phone and via video. Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in being able to represent members of our community just like you and we would be honored to speak to you about how our office can best serve you and your family. 


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