If you’re one of the many Americans whose job and family life has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and have shared child custody, you may be wondering how the recent stay-at-home orders in Texas affect your child custody orders.
Naturally, keeping your child safe during this scary and stressful time is your top priority; however, what about visitation and parental exchanges?
This is one of the more prevalent questions that child custody attorneys are receiving lately from many parents trying to adjust co-parenting based on their own new work and schedule while still observing child custody orders.
Fortunately, the answer to this question has recently been addressed by the Texas Supreme Court.
Most Recent Texas Child Custody Orders
In its Seventh Emergency Order for the State of Texas signed on March 24, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court specifically addressed the issue of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and how they affect child custody orders.
The Order specifically states that existing court orders still apply, even while we are all adhering to stay-at-home orders in affected counties and cities.
Essentially, whatever your assigned visitation schedule was before COVID-19, you and your ex-spouse should continue to follow it.
COVID-19 Stay-at-Home And Visitation Orders
With stay-at-home orders made in various Texas counties closing all schools, your kids are now at home.
If you work in a non-essential field or are able to work from home, you should be doing staying at your home and child exchanges between yourself and your child’s other parent should continue with care.
Child custody lawyers recommend that you keep visitation happening as scheduled when possible.
Continuing with normal visitation schedules will help your kids maintain bonds with both parents while providing a degree of normalcy to life in spite of what may seem chaotic to everyone dealing with all these sudden changes.
Work Together To Handle Schedule Changes
Schedule changes due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders abound, especially when the kids are now at home and those of you working in essential fields still have to go to work.
Communication between parents is essential so you can both work out an effective solution to this sudden demand that may not fit so easily into your new schedules.
The best advice that child custody attorneys can give is to stick as close to your official custody orders as you can, then be considerate and understanding when you have to flex and straighten out the scheduling kinks.
It will likely take some cooperation from both of you to work it out.
Keep Everyone Healthy
Since stay-at-home orders specifically do not apply to child custody visitation orders and parental exchange of children, it’s essential to protect your health and that of your child by following recommended CDC guidelines to reduce contamination risk and keep your environment disinfected.
Quarantine with your children other than to go to the grocery store and work if required while following social distancing suggestions to reduce the chance that you’ll become infected and potentially expose someone else.
Contact A Child Custody Lawyer
In a worst-case scenario when you and your ex-spouse can’t agree on visitation schedules, orders are not being followed, or one of you becomes ill or exposed and needs to self-quarantine, it’s a good idea to talk to a child custody lawyer about it.
Even better, your attorney may help you come up with some creative solutions for parental exchanges and child visitation concerns while COVID-19 restrictions are in effect that work for both of you and still uphold the current custody order.
Schreier & Housewirth Family Law
1329 College Avenue, Suite 100
Fort Worth TX 76104