Child Custody and Coronavirus Concerns

Posted by Josh Valentine | Mar 17, 2020

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.

About the Author

Josh Valentine

You could say Josh has a God-given ability for sustaining long-term relationships. He and his wife first met in elementary school and went to Gardner Webb University (GWU) together, where they tied for number 1 in their class. Then, they both started law school on the same day of their graduation and got married during their first semester. He has also known his law partner Blake Caulder since Kindergarten. Theirs is the perfect partnership. “He’s the brake; I am the accelerator,” Josh says. Both Josh and his wife attended an innovative program at Charlotte Law School that allowed them to complete law school in two years instead of the typical three. His wife graduated and passed the North Carolina bar at age 20, becoming one of the youngest attorneys in the state. He readily admits she’s smarter than him. Of course, Josh went on to pass the North Carolina State Bar himself and later the South Carolina State Bar. While in school, he was Associate Editor of the Law Review and received accolades like Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society membership, Order of the Crown, Pro Bono Honors, CALI Awards (highest grade). In his career as a lawyer, he has been admitted to the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, is a member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, and completed training for DWI Detection & Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Josh has also been named to the Top 40 Under 40 for Criminal Defense by The National Trial Lawyers, the Business North Carolina 2019 Legal Elite for Criminal Defense, and the 10 Best Attorneys for Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys three years in a row (2016, 2017, and 2018). Community involvement has been important to Josh all his life. In high school, he participated in building a Holocaust museum that has become internationally regarded. He and his wife are actively engaged in animal rescue, which currently means seven cats and two kittens. He served in prison ministry and assisted with fundraiser banquets there, and he provides pro bono and reduced fee legal services to those in need. As if all of that weren’t enough, Josh also mentors high risk youth and helps with his church’s youth group. He participates in other community volunteer projects involving construction, remodeling, drywall, painting, and landscaping. He’s an active student of the Bible and has traveled to Israel, Brazil, and Europe for mission work. No one can say Josh isn’t a well-rounded individual. In his spare time, he likes to play softball, basketball, and tennis, and he can play the piano and trombone. Sometimes on weekends, believe it or not, he enjoys pouring and finishing concrete with friends who own a concrete and grading business. In his law practice, Josh has made it a point to develop positive relationships with officers, clerks, and district attorneys, which has proven invaluable in delivering positive results for his clients. It’s important to him to both listen to his clients and fight for them. Law enforcement officers have important responsibilities to keep our communities safe and uphold the law, but one of the responsibilities of attorneys is to make sure officers do their job correctly. Josh considers it his job to hold them accountable for their actions. Josh is a person of deep faith. He knows that the established order of our universe and strength of America’s Judeo-Christian influenced court system is built on God’s word. His passion to serve each client with innovation, excellence and integrity is a byproduct of his faith. When asked why he became a lawyer, Josh says, “All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits, and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person who was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer. So that’s why I became an attorney. I understand what you are going through, and I’m here to help you. Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life.” Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar