In this unprecedented time of pandemic, lawyers who help Texas clients with custody of their children are receiving many questions about child visitation and custody orders in the light of COVID-19 restrictions.
It’s a challenging time for us all, especially parents being affected by stay-at-home orders, school closings, and other schedule changes during this period.
For this reason, child custody lawyers stress how important it is that Texas divorced parents understand what is expected of them during these unique times and how to comply with current custody and visitation orders.
Does the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect Texas Child Custody Orders?
Basically, no - very little changes a child custody order and documented visitation requirements.
Except in completely unavoidable or extreme circumstances, child custody attorneys in Texas urge parents to continue to follow their custody order and follow visitation requirements or they could face legal penalties including being cited for contempt.
Custodial parents are not to prevent visitation with the non-custodial parent.
Cooperate in Managing Visitation Compliance During the Pandemic
As easy as it is to say that parents must comply with visitation orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, custody lawyers and the Texas family court do recognize that circumstances may arise making it difficult or even impossible to do that.
Whether due to scheduling difficulties while the kids are home from school or even a COVID diagnosis in one of the homes, something must obviously be modified if it becomes impossible for parents to stick with the required visitation schedule.
Fortunately, the Texas family court permits parents to work together to temporarily modify their visitation and care schedules based on need as long as both parents agree and the changes are made with good intent.
Custody attorneys suggest that parents negotiate needs and their concerns about preventing exposure to their children, then document an agreement as evidence of a willingness to work together to deal with those concerns.
As long as changes are done in good faith and ordered visitation schedules return to normal after the crisis, these adjustments should not present any legal problems.
Can Official Modifications to the Custody Order Be Made?
In instances where parents cannot work together on needed changes, it may be necessary to get a custody lawyer involved.
Circumstances where one parent refuses to cooperate with the other parent to resolve scheduling problems while school is out or one parent has concerns about exposure or inability to socially distance in the other parent’s home situation, it might warrant an official modification to the custody order.
Child custody attorneys often recommend mediation to help parents favorably work on the issue; however, in more extreme cases where the well-being of the child is at stake, an attorney can help parents file a petition for a modification to the custody order that will require compliance by the other parent.
Questions About Compliance During COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone in different ways and as many child custody lawyers in Texas can attest, it has brought about some big challenges for divorced parents trying to adhere to visitation schedules and provide appropriate care for their children during these times.
While the family court does permit parents to work out temporary changes to their visitation orders based on need, when parents cannot or will not work together for the well-being of their children, it’s essential to discuss it with a custody attorney.
Together, attorneys can help parents get through these extraordinary times as best possible!
Reynaldo Garza, III - Attorney at Law
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520