While COVID-19 continues to disrupt the day-to-day interactions of families throughout Georgia, some families are dealing with custody and visitation issues as they relate to the Shelter in Place Order. Managing parenting time and custody agreements during the Coronavirus pandemic can add further complications to an already stressful situation. With new developments happening at a rapid pace, many people are wondering if they can see their child quarantined at an ex’s house.
On April 3, 2020, an Executive Order was issued clarifying the Shelter In Place Order issued on April 2, 2020, asserting that custody and parenting time orders shall be followed notwithstanding the shelter in place directive. This means that parenting time shall continue to be governed by the previously established school calendar, regardless of whether a family has implemented a homeschooling schedule out of necessity. This includes adherence to regular breaks, holidays, and summer vacation.
Many courts in Georgia have specified that custody and visitation agreements and rights, based around a school calendar should still be followed even though schools are closed. If you are concerned about how custody or visitation may affect your child’s safety during COVID-19, it may be best to discuss these concerns with the child’s other parent. Working out a temporary agreement on how to proceed during the Coronavirus pandemic may be in your child’s best interest.
But, what happens when parents can’t agree? If you can’t resolve these issues on your own, you should contact a local family law attorney like Crystal Wright for advice. She is still working and available for consultations by phone or via virtual meeting services, like Zoom. You can also check your local or state court websites, as they are beginning to issue guidance on custody issues.
If your child’s health is truly at risk, you may want to ask a judge to intervene. Your family law attorney may be able to obtain an emergency temporary child custody order from your local family court. There are no universal rules for family law courts to follow across the state, so custody disputes in the time of COVID-19 are uncharted territory for divorced or separated parents and family law attorneys alike.
While some family law courts have explicitly stated that families should continue following custody schedules, even if they’re under a shelter-in-place order—these courts may allow exceptions and modify custody in extreme cases. If, for example, one parent is following strict precautions to keep a high-risk child safe from COVID-19, like self-isolation and working from home, while the other parent has been exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19, a judge may find that it’s in the child’s best interests to modify visits for a short period of time and schedule make-up visits for a later date.
Most federal and state courthouses are temporarily closed for nonessential cases in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Check with Crystal Wright Law or your local court website to see if your courthouse remains open for emergency family law requests. As COVID-19 continues to spread and courts simultaneously try to serve the public, notices and policies will be revised frequently.
As a family law attorney, I can still file new cases and move those cases through to a resolution. If you need help with a divorce or other family law matter, we are still up and running and here to help you. At CW Law we are completely prepared to handle your case by e-mail and telephone if you are unable to come into our office. Have questions, you can reach out to us: (404) 594-2143 | firstname.lastname@example.org