How Does COVID-19 Affect My Custody Rights?

The pandemic has had a stunning effect nationally, and its impact can be felt in nearly all aspects of our daily life. The spread of COVID-19 has created countless stresses, from unemployment and housing instability to tensions over how to enforce custody agreements under these new circumstances. With remote learning models, varying mandates, and staggering health concerns, it may seem impossible to continue business as usual, even when it comes to custody.

Does My Custody Agreement Still Apply?

Yes, your Florida Parenting Plan still holds, even if a stay-at-home order is given. Regardless of how circumstances change, both parents are still required to adhere to the terms of the parenting plan unless they mutually agree otherwise. If you and your co-parent are able to mutually agree to a temporary change for the best interest of the child, you do not need to go to court or have any formal revisions made. However, it is still advisable that you talk to an experienced Florida Family Law attorney or document the agreement, so that the other party cannot later try to claim that you unilaterally violated the agreement, which could result in you being held in contempt of court.

Adjustments for E-Learning

The shift to an e-learning model is requiring many parents to make temporary adjustments to their custody agreements. Changes caused by the pandemic have caused upheaval in many long-standing dynamics. For instance, a parent that used to work full-time may now be unemployed with plenty of time to devote to e-learning, while the other parent may be a front-line worker with longer hours and more exposure risk. Factors such as these may require revisiting the existing agreement, and seeing how it can be adapted to fit the current circumstances. When having these conversations and seeking solutions, ensure that you are focusing on what is in the best interest of the child.

What if Agreement is Not Possible?

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to reach an agreement, or maybe your co-parent is refusing to cooperate; you still have options. An experienced Floria family law attorney can advocate on your behalf to modify your existing order. Additionally, if sticking to the terms of the agreement would put your child in imminent danger, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. They will review your case and inform you about possible options, which may include seeking an emergency order from a judge.

For instance, if one parent is COVID-19 positive and is insisting on taking custody of your shared child as usual, this could be considered to be an imminent risk to the child which may warrant an emergency order. It is important to again emphasize though that you should consult with an attorney before taking any actions that are not in compliance with your Florida Parenting Plan.

Next Steps

If you have concerns about complying with your existing Florida Parenting Agreement, are struggling to reach an agreement with your co-parent, or are worried about your child’s safety, it is important to contact an experienced Florida family law lawyer. Contact the lawyers at HAWM Law to schedule a free consultation today.

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