As COVID-19 rates continue to climb across North Carolina, whether you're in Charlotte proper or the Charlotte metropolitan area, like Gastonia, you may be wondering how to address child custody and safety across your household and your ex's household. In fact, the North Carolina Family Court Advisory Commission issued updated recommendations in August. What do those recommendations suggest? Let's take a look.
The document begins by pointing out that the goal is to provide as much consistency and stability as possible "in the best interest of the child(ren)."
With COVID-19 still ongoing, there are many instabilities in the children's lives, from changes in schooling, to not being able to see friends without social distancing, to seeing people with masks whenever they come with you to the grocery or the doctor's office. Stability is vital for children in normal circumstances, and during the pandemic, it's even more important to follow that guidance.
According to the document, it's important to note that "Parents should encourage children to wear a mask in public, as recommended by public health and government officials. If following these orders and guidelines is not possible, parenting time should be conducted virtually via videoconferencing (e.g., WebEx, Skype, or FaceTime) or by telephone."
So if you're not possible to meet in public with a mask, then parenting time should still occur; however, it should happen using videoconferencing. Keeping in touch with your children is more important now than ever.
Even if you're not happy with your ex's decisions, it's important to know that "A parent is not permitted to deny parenting time based upon the other parent's unwillingness to discuss their precautionary measures taken, or a parent's belief that the other parent's precautions are insufficient." If you are concerned, consider speaking with an attorney and going to a judge to adjust the agreement.
If you're interested in reading more from a social worker's perspective, this article raises some good points. The biggest takeaway may be that the communication between you and your ex is critical to moving along as best as possible with the shifting COVID-19 cases. During a crisis like this, your children need emotional support from both of their parents.
As you and your ex consider child custody and navigating the pandemic, there are many factors to consider. If you'd like help tackling these factors, Caulder & Valentine is here to assist you. Give us a call at 704.470.2440 or contact us online to discuss the specifics of your case.