California courts tasked with determining custody of a child will set forth an order that they feel is in the child’s best interest. The courts weigh numerous factors to determine what is best for a child, including the health of each parent, the likelihood of either parent to help maintain and foster the child’s relationship with the co-parent, and whether the child has special needs.
One factor that was not likely to be considered, though, is how a global pandemic would impact custody and visitation. As such, many parents find themselves questioning how they can safely maintain their custody and visitation rights while abiding by COVID-19 restrictions. If you share custody of a child and need legal advice on how to protect your parental rights and your child’s and your health, it is advisable to confer with a knowledgeable California child custody attorney to discuss your case.
The Impact of California’s COVID-19 Orders on Child Custody Orders
California’s Governor has issued multiple orders since March 2020 to protect the public health of Californians and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including stay at home orders. These orders do not permit parents to discard the terms of child custody or visitation orders, though. Rather, parents must continue to comply with such orders.
During the pandemic, however, parties may face difficulties following family law orders due to logistics or health concerns and may not be able to obtain new orders due to court closures. In such instances, it is advisable for parents to attempt to communicate with one another and come to an agreement amongst themselves. Any agreement should be entered into with the assistance of an attorney and reduced to writing.
If parents have concerns over the safety or health of their children, they should discuss whether their current visitation or custody orders can be followed given the spread of COVID-19 in their area and orders regarding social distancing. Parents should also communicate freely with regard to whether anyone in either household has symptoms of COVID-19 or has received a positive test result, has been exposed to the virus, or lives with someone who faces an increased risk. In such instances, the State encourages parents to work together to determine a way both parents can continue to safely contact the child.
Legal Measures to Protect Parental Rights
People who unilaterally fail to abide by family court orders can face serious legal consequences. If one parent unfairly denies the other visitation or custody without justification or an agreement, the parent whose rights are being violated should keep records of any violations and can seek enforcement via the courts. Similarly, a parent who feels a current order does not protect a child’s health can seek a modification.
Meet with a Trusted Family Law Attorney in California
Parents have a duty to abide by custody orders, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, but if they believe the terms of an order are no longer in the best interest of their child, they can take measures to protect their interests. If you share custody of a child and wish to modify or enforce a court order, it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted California child custody attorney to determine your options. Attorney Ethan M. Weisinger is dedicated to helping people fight for just results in family law cases, and if you hire him, he will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Weisinger at 925-258-2020 or through the form online to set up a consultation.
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