Tips for Child Custody During Coronavirus

Thoughtful boy holding smart phone in both hands

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of daily life for people across the country. For people handling shared custody, the shelter-in-place orders and travel restrictions can make an already complicated situation even more difficult. Below, we offer some tips and considerations for parents fielding child custody issues during the coronavirus pandemic. Call a dedicated Englewood child custody lawyer if you have any questions or need help with a New Jersey family law matter.

Consider Temporarily Altering the Custody Arrangement

The shelter-in-place orders and travel restrictions may make adhering to an existing child custody arrangement impractical. Especially if you and your co-parent live in different cities or states, traveling from one place to the other may not be an option. Changes to your custody arrangement do not have to be permanent. If you typically changed custody every weekend or every other week, consider switching to a monthly arrangement to limit travel. It may even make sense to leave the kids with one parent for the entire summer, in the hopes that travel will open up by September.

If you are able, discuss these options with your co-parent and come to an agreement that makes sense for your family and your circumstances. If you and your co-parent cannot agree, you might need to go to court to have the issue resolved. While in-person proceedings in many courts are no longer available, most courts are implementing videoconference and teleconference technology for hearings and other procedures. Talk to your family law attorney about your options to get a court order where necessary.

Keep Regular Communication With Your Kids

If your visitation or custody is limited due to the coronavirus, you have options available to keep the lines of communication open. Make regular phone calls or video calls using services like Zoom, Skype, Facetime, or Google Meet. A variety of free options are available. Try to ensure that alterations to your custody arrangement, and your own economic and personal concerns that may arise as a result of the pandemic, do not get in the way of your relationship with your kids. A weekend visitation can turn into weekly video chats, video game sessions, or other means of staying in touch.

Children Can Cope if Their Parents Can Cope

Kids follow their parents’ lead, even if they don’t admit to doing so. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious about the physical, emotional, and financial toll that the pandemic has been taking on people around the country. Ensure that you take care of yourself, your home, and your family. Eating well, exercising, and ensuring good sleep habits can go a long way toward retaining normalcy. If you and your co-parent are in good mental health, your children are much more likely to handle the pandemic stresses better as well, and you will be better able to help them through any issues.

Be Open and Understanding About Cash Flow Issues

Either you, your co-parent or both may be experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic. Consider whether temporary alterations to alimony or child support are necessary, or whether it will be easier for one parent to take on additional custody responsibilities. Do your best to keep an open mind with your co-parent about these matters, and try to resolve them in a way that is beneficial for your children and yourselves. If necessary, go to court to seek an alteration of obligations.

Help from an Experienced and Compassionate New Jersey Divorce Attorney

If you’re dealing with child custody, child support, divorce, or other family law issues in New Jersey, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at (201) 500-2151 for help.