There is a lot of confusion surrounding the coronavirus or COVID-19 and the situation is changing every day. Parents with children may be dealing with a lot between having children home from school, arranging child care, or trying to work from home. Parents sharing custody may have additional hurdles as parents have to deal with quarantine and isolation conditions in different areas and under different circumstances.
If you have any questions about how to handle your child custody situation during the virus outbreak, talk to your North Carolina family law attorneys for help.
Concerns About the Child Traveling to the Other Parent's Home
When many people are self-isolating or under quarantine to limit exposure and spread of the virus, many parents do not want to risk sending their child to another town or state for visitation, even if the child custody orders require sharing time with the other parent.
The first step to avoid conflict is to communicate with the other parent and express concerns about travel. Hopefully, the other parent will understand that the extraordinary situation should require modifications or compromise. Your child's well-being should be the primary concern for you and the child's other parent.
Flexibility in custody can be a way to compromise and come to a mutual understanding. For example, skipping an upcoming visit to the other parent's home could be exchanged for twice as long of a visit the next time. Other options may include:
- Extending summer visitation time,
- The other parent visiting the child,
- Giving an additional holiday visit,
- Extended visitation over the winter break, or
- More time video chatting or talking on the phone,
Before Violating Child Custody Orders
Unfortunately, not all parents are as understanding about changing custody plans in a time of need. However, before unilaterally violating the child custody orders, you should be aware of the potential consequences. Ignoring the family court orders or violating the child custody and visitation plan can result in contempt of court charges, criminal charges for violating child custody orders. In extreme cases, a parent could be charged with parental kidnapping.
Before deciding to handle things on your own, talk to your North Carolina family law attorney. If a parent has concerns about traveling with the child or exposing the child to danger, the parent can seek an emergency court order or order to show cause. The judge's decision to modify the custody orders may be based on a number of factors, including:
- The safety of the child,
- The parents' history of violating court orders,
- The individual situation of each parent, and
- State guidance on the coronavirus outbreak.
For example, if the other parent lives a couple of towns over with a similar risk situation as your town, the judge may not find enough of a risk of immediate harm to the child. However, if the other parent has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, the judge will be much more likely to put a hold on the child's visitation or the other parent.
North Carolina Child Custody Lawyers
If you have any questions about modifying child custody orders in North Carolina, contact the Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC. Contact us online or by phone at 704-470-2440 today for a consultation.