Sharing Custody During A Pandemic

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck earlier this year, it disrupted the daily lives of nearly every American. When the stay-at-home orders were issued in Colorado and elsewhere, most parents were left scrambling to figure out how to work from home (if they even had that option) while also trying to take care of their kids and give them access to online learning platforms.

One issue that arguably didn’t get enough news coverage at the time was the problems faced by parents who share child custody. Many parents were understandably worried that transferring kids between houses would increase the risks of Coronavirus exposure, while others were concerned that their co-parent wouldn’t be enforcing rules about social distancing. Still others felt angry yet powerless when their co-parent unilaterally decided to ignore the custody agreement and keep the kids in one home only.

Back at that time, courts were largely shut down, meaning that it was very difficult for parents to access help enforcing the custody agreement. Stay-at-home orders have been lifted and courts are reopening again (and working through backlogs of cases). But because the pandemic is far from over, shared custody in the time of Covid-19 will continue to create problems.

If you are currently experiencing custody issues related to the Coronavirus, now may be the best time to act and either put a better plan in place or pursue enforcement of the custody order. Colorado’s courts are currently operating, but things may not stay that way if the spike in cases gets worse and the state goes into quarantine again (which is very possible, according to epidemiologists).

If you and your co-parent are able to communicate and negotiate peacefully, the best and easiest thing to do would be to come up with a plan together. Discuss the many possible contingencies and what will need to happen in each scenario. Reach consensus on whether the custody order needs to be temporarily modified (by verbal agreement), and then discuss the changes that need to be made.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be on good terms with their co-parent. If your co-parent is violating the custody order and will not discuss alternatives with you, it may be necessary to petition the court to either enforce or modify the existing order. You may not even need to take the issue to court. Sometimes, just having a lawyer involved can be enough to ensure compliance from a co-parent.

For more information on how our firm can help you during these difficult and uncertain times, contact our office to discuss your case with an experienced family law attorney.