Coronavirus and Child Custody in California

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted virtually every aspect of our lives. It’s affected employment, entertainment, our ability to work out at the gym, socializing, celebrating, looking at real estate properties for sale, and so much more.

The coronavirus has even impacted family law matters – divorce, domestic violence, child support, and child custody. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to address how COVID-19 is impacting child custody cases throughout Orange County and the rest of California.

Coronavirus & Child Custody Cases

With Californians being ordered to stay home, parents are finding it difficult, if not impossible to stick to their child custody and visitation orders, and there are reasons for this. For example, some parents are essential workers while others are labeled as “non-essential workers” and are ordered to stay home.

If one parent is a healthcare worker who is frequently exposed to the novel coronavirus and the other parent is staying home, it makes sense to keep the child home with the parent who is staying at their house. This reduces the child’s risk of infection. Even regional lockdowns and travel restrictions are forcing parents to rewrite their normal routines.

In cases where the parents have a healthy co-parenting relationship, the changes have been relatively smooth, but for estranged parents, improvisation has been a challenge. The parents’ anxiety has only been worsened by a family court system that has practically shut down, except for minimal exceptions for emergency or time-sensitive matters.

For updated information about COVID-19 and how it’s affecting the Orange County family court operations, click here.

Additional reasons why COVID-19 has impacted child custody:

  • Many parents can no longer exchange their children at schools and workplaces because they’re closed.
  • If the parents live in different states, most parents don’t want to take the risk of exposing their child to travel and crowded places.
  • Some parents don’t think their ex is taking COVID-19, social distancing, or handwashing seriously, so they don’t want their child with them.

The biggest obstacle that parents are having is legal. Since the courts are basically closed except for urgent cases, those parents who want to modify their pre-existing child custody orders have to wait. Then, there are some parents who will use the coronavirus pandemic to their advantage, and they’ll use it as an excuse to interfere with the other parent’s custody rights.

If COVID-19 has affected your child custody arrangement and you have legal questions and may need to open a child custody case, contact Burch Shepard Family Law Group.

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