The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly changing lives around the world. From grocery shopping to attending work or school, states including Indiana have issued orders to protect residents’ health and safety during this time.
For divorced couples with children, coronavirus is also affecting custody exchanges and scheduled visitation times. If you have a child custody order, it is important to take proper precautions to avoid potential exposure to the virus and to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Step #1: Communicate with the Other Parent
Communication is key to determining how you and your former spouse will handle custody exchanges during the current pandemic. Discussing these matters with him or her beforehand will also help you avoid legal issues and court disputes, especially if someone sees an unexpected decrease in their parenting time.
Speak to your former spouse and discuss your options for exchange. You may want to involve a mediator in this discussion if you believe he or she may help facilitate this discussion.
The following questions can help guide your conversation.
- Do you feel comfortable or safe continuing your regular schedule?
- Do you feel comfortable allowing your child to stay in one location during the shelter-in-place orders?
- Is there someone living in one of your households with an underlying condition who could face complications if he or she contracts COVID-19?
- What will you do if you, your child, or someone in your household gets sick?
- Would one of you feel comfortable with digital visitation, such as video calls?
Step #2: Speak to Your Children
Your children should have a chance to speak about their best interests during the COVID-19 pandemic. After discussing your options with your former spouse, speak to your child and ask him or her what he or she believes is the best arrangement.
Compile this information and bring it to your former spouse for further discussion before coming to a final agreement.
Step #3: Stay Calm and Prepare for Changes
A united agreement between both parents will allow for a calmer, less stressful environment for the children during the pandemic. When discussing your custody exchange plan, remember to remain collaborative and prepare for changes in your visitation schedules.
One parent may see more parenting time than the other during this pandemic, but it is important to remember that this is a temporary solution until the crisis eases. Your children’s health and safety should be the first priority.
Step #4: Be Safe During Drop-Off
If you are bringing your child to his or her other parent, it is important to take proper precautions during drop-off. Take the following steps to stay safe.
- Wash your hands and make sure your child’s hands and belongings are clean and disinfected before you leave the house.
- Wear a face covering and maintain a six-feet distance between yourself and anyone who is not in your household.
- If you, your former spouse, your children, or anyone in your household is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, do not proceed with the exchange.
Step #5: Contact a Child Custody Attorney
If you are struggling with your child custody exchange in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, contact a divorce attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you understand what your legal rights are in this situation, mediate conversations between you and your spouse, or connect you with a third-party mediator.
Contact your Indianapolis child custody attorney today to schedule your free consultation.