Child Custody & COVID-19—an Unexpected Battleground
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed lives for families across the US. For many co-parents engaged in child custody arrangements, the coronavirus has become an unexpected battleground.
From disagreements over how to handle parents acting as essential workers to economic troubles brought on by the pandemic, co-parents face no shortage of challenges right now—which is what today's blog is about.
Parents Acting as Essential Workers—Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Co-parents acting as essential workers (doctors, nurses, retail and grocery store clerks, etc.) are faced with an unenviable decision: Do they keep seeing their kids despite being on the front lines of a pandemic, or do they relinquish their physical custody for the foreseeable future?
For many parents, it's not a question they get the chance to answer. The New York Times recently ran a story about Dr. Bertha Mayorquin, a New Jersey doctor whose ex-husband filed an emergency custody order that stopped her from seeing their children. His reasoning? He couldn't justify risking the children (or himself) getting sick. To reobtain custody, Dr. Mayorquin had to transition back into a a remote position at her work, despite wanting to help patients on the front lines.
For parents, there is no easy answer here. Some will choose to relinquish custody to avoid risking the health of their children or co-parent, but that's a hard decision to make. Expect more custody disputes about this issue in the near future.
Schools Are Closing, Putting Parents in a Tough Position
Schools across the US are closing, forcing co-parents to act as de-factor teachers' aides while helping their kids adjust to virtual classes and online schooling.
For co-parenting custody arrangements, online schooling presents unique challenges. What if one parent is working away from home? What if both are? Who will look after the child? Can both parents equally contribute to helping their child navigate online classes?
Many parents rely on school as a form of childcare. Now, they have to juggle work and taking care of the kids 24/7—which can be especially tricky in custody arrangements where the parents disagree on how to handle online schooling or have different boundaries surrounding academics for their children.
Co-Parents Prepare for an Unexpected Financial Crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the US economy, resulting in record numbers of unemployment filings across the nation. Many co-parents will now find themselves in a position where they have to balance taking care of a child who's at home all the time with trying to find a new job.
Then, there's the issue of child support. Parents who lose their jobs may be unable to pay their child support obligation, changing life for the whole family due to circumstances totally out of their control.
As parents settle in for an unexpected economic downturn that may well last until 2021, custody and child support arrangements may have to be modified in light of current circumstances.
Co-parents across the US are being forced to confront multiple challenges right now—most of which have no easy solution or right answer. Our thoughts are with co-parents in these challenging times.
At the Law & Mediation Firm of Klueck & Hoppes, APC, we help parents navigate child custody disputes with confidence.
To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us onlineor via phone at (619) 577-4900.