As I write this it has been a long couple of weeks of lockdown due to COVID-19, and if you are sharing custody of your children with a spouse during these unprecedented events the adversity can seem ratcheted up with dealing with changes in school schedules, sheltering in place, and possibly dealing with family members either more suspectable to serious sickness or family members with jobs that place them at greater risk. All of these possibilities can create adversity. Remember, “Everyone goes through adversity in life, but what matters is how you learn from it”, said famous Notre Dame Football Coach Lou Holtz. Handling custody matters with a calm head; cooperative solutions with the other parent even in these difficult times will lead for the best solutions for both parents, and most importantly the children. This can be a positive learning experience for all involved. By being able to handle a challenge like this, future obstacles with child custody might be less daunting come the end of the lockdown. My three major suggestions are be cognizant of what is going on with your family, live up to your agreements and be creative in finding solutions.
First, be cognizant of what is going on. Follow the CDC guidelines, it’s the right thing to do for you and your children. Following the guidelines will also give a former or soon to be former spouse little to complain about, especially if you have a high-risk profession for COVID-19. If you or your child has been exposed realize this will could affect face to face visits.
Second, while New Jersey has not issued an order directly addressing the status of custody orders, there is no reason to believe that your order can be treated any differently understand and respect that; this is no time to have to defend yourself in court against a motion. Open and honest communication is needed so both parties have an idea about the mobility of the children, and in the event, there is a disagreement about the temporary carrying out of the order, creative solutions can be found.
Third, be cooperative and creative in your solutions. If one parent is unlikely to see a child do to exposure concerns or fear of another parent to travel do to their health concerns or the child’s health concerns, the parents should make all efforts to make up the time, maybe by accounting for the lost time, and allowing more time for the parent, who has not seen the child during the panendemic. Another idea is virtual visits (or Facetime visits.) If the parties cannot reach a creative solution themselves, consulting is a mediator might get them to that solution. The Court system is currently burdened due to adjustments do to COVID-19, and proof that you exerted every possible effort is something that most judges will appreciate it.
Hopefully all involved can emerge from this COVID challenge with a better understanding of the challenge itself and creative solutions to problems, it would be quite a learning experience, that could be employed even after the worst of COVD-19 is behind us. If you have followed these steps and still need to meet with an attorney that handles divorce matters, I am here to help. Contact me, Donald Dinsmore of Casha & Casha LLC at 973-263-1114 ext. 207. The first ½ hour of a consultation is always free.