Many people who share joint custody with the other parent of their children have many questions during these different and often difficult times of the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders. Even if you are lucky enough to have an amicable relationship with the other parent, with so much that is unknown about this scary virus and illness, it is not surprising if custody arrangements are more difficult to follow and/or it has caused tension between you and your child’s other parent. An unfortunate reality is that many people who share custody do not have amicable relationships, and because of the pandemic, communication and coordination has gone from an already difficult situation to feeling impossible.
Regardless of the kind of relationship and arrangements you have for your children, below are some valuable answers to common questions parent have, from Jason Wright, an experienced Texas family lawyer:
What is the current position that Texas courts have taken regarding child custody and COVID-19?
While many people feel that things such as traveling to transport their children to their other parent’s house and being exposed to the other parent’s significant other and/or their children, etc., pose a significant risk to their children, the bottom line is that even during Texas’ shelter-in-place orders, whatever the court declared as your custody arrangements is still supposed to remain in place.
While there may be exceptions to this generalized rule, and if you and the other parent can come to a new agreement amicably and you have record of this, discussing this with a good Texas family law attorney can help you to determine whether or not it is necessary to go to court to officially change your custody arrangements. It is important that you do not break court orders without making sure that you will not get in trouble for doing this, even during these different and difficult times.
Do schools being on different schedules and needing to homeschool children give me the right to change my custody arrangements?
Even though parents have had to homeschool their children during the shelter-in-place orders and things such as Spring Break were extended, etc., you cannot change the dates and times in your custody agreement without getting the permission from the entities that you need to to do this legally. While it can be frustrating to know that your child’s school time at home is not being reinforced or that you have a full-time job and need to work at home and/or don’t have the child care to be able to go to your essential job, when the other parent does not have a job or they have childcare options that you do not, etc., you cannot change your custody arrangement without permission/agreement from your child’s other parent and from the entities you need to get permission from to keep you in the legal clear.
If you want to legally change your custody orders, contact a reputable Texas family law attorney to find out what this will entail.
What happens if my child’s other parent refuses to honor the court order?
The same way that you could get in trouble for not following the court’s custody order, so should your child’s other parent if they do not honor a court order. This is wrong and should not happen but if it does, you should contact a good Texas family law attorney as soon as possible. Even during “normal” times, law enforcement do not get involved in disputes of child custody but given the strain that the coronavirus pandemic has put on our law enforcement officers, it is especially so.
The best thing for you to do if a parent refuses to honor a court’s child custody order is to contact a good Texas family law attorney so that they can properly bring this to court to get a new ruling or to get help enforcing a broken one.