The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so many aspects of our daily lives, from simple tasks such as going to the grocery store to more meaningful activities like gathering with our families for a holiday. One additional area that many divorced couples have been forced to navigate with greater care has been child custody. Trying to uphold a shared parenting plan while ensuring your child’s health and well-being can be a challenge.
While you might consider going to court to have them figure out your co-parenting plan, it is possible to work together with your ex-spouse to come up with a more practical and less time-consuming solution. While the pandemic will end, your need to co-parent in a way that is in the best interest of your child will not.
Children Come First
Regardless of the situation and potential outcome, a parent must remember that the best interest of the child must come first. While this can be difficult to keep in mind, especially if talking to an ex-spouse is hard, resolving to ensure your child’s safety and well-being puts things in a different perspective.
Child Support Payments
The pandemic wreaked havoc on the job market, so much so that many people who were laid off due to budget cuts are still struggling to find employment. If you lost your job during the pandemic and are either making or receiving child support payments, you may be worrying about how those payments are going to continue to work for you.
If your income changes drastically, the first step you should take is to communicate this with both your ex-spouse and the court. While you can seek a modification to your child support payments with the court, it is also possible to work out an alternative arrangement with your ex-spouse and notify the court of any agreed-upon changes. Either way, communication about any needed changes is the key to success.
Child Custody Modification
With social distancing guidelines and mask mandates come parents rightfully concerned about where their children go, who they are with, and what protocols are being followed (or ignored). Custody agreements are still in place and must be followed, even during the pandemic, but many parents have worked together with ex-spouses to communicate safety plans and make any necessary changes to schedules as needed. Consider speaking with your ex-spouse and communicate both your concerns as well as your willingness to work with them on ensuring you both receive your parenting time, even if the schedule is a little different than normal.
Relocating during the pandemic is a bit more challenging, but as things begin to re-open and people travel more, such occurrences will become more common. Keep in mind that Florida defines relocation as a permanent move that is outside of a 50-mile radius from the current location.
If you are relocating with your child to a temporary housing situation that is mainly designed to keep them safe from a high contact area, no legal action needs to be taken. However, it is your responsibility to communicate your temporary plans with your ex-spouse and ensure you still provide visitation rights as mandated.
If your relocation is permanent and outside of that 50-mile radius, remember certain legal protocols must be followed. Just moving without saying anything, as good as your intentions are, can lead to serious legal consequences.
Work With a Divorce Attorney
Remember that you do not have to go through this pandemic alone. Scary times such as these often lead to worry and many questions. Working with a professional attorney who can answer your legal questions and guide you through these complex issues can bring you peace of mind.
At Schipani, Norman & McLain, P.A., we pride ourselves on our treatment of our clients and their cases. Call us today at (941) 499-8154 or visit us online to schedule a consultation with a member of our Florida family law team.