COVID’s Impact on Child Custody in California

By Law Office of Karen S. Brown

In the midst of these unprecedented and unpredictable times, many people are left with questions about how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can affect different legal situations. One of the more prominent concerns regarding the pandemic involves previously-determined child custody agreements.

If you are dealing with a child custody matter or have questions about how the current state of affairs may impact your existing child custody arrangement, you can turn to an experienced family law attorney for guidance.

At the Law Office of Karen S. Brown, you can lean on the knowledge and insight of an attorney with more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of family law. If you are in the greater Los Angeles, California area, including Ventura County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, reach out today to schedule a free consultation.

Effect of COVID on Existing Orders

There are factors related to the current pandemic that have begun to have an impact on child custody matters. Uncertainty, governmental public safety rules, and an overall heightened sense of risk and desire on the part of the public to take precaution can lead to potential disputes regarding your custody arrangement.

In cases where one parent wrongfully withholds a child from their agreed-upon visitation time with the other parent or the child is now getting extra time with the primary custody holder due to attending school online during the pandemic, it is common to feel unsure about the legality of the situation. In addition, you may have issues with the decisions or behavior of your ex-spouse as it relates to the pandemic and your child.

However, existing child custody orders remain in effect and should be abided by unless both parents agree to an alternative plan to accommodate any nuances created by the pandemic. Otherwise, any changes must be made to the existing order by a judge.

Health Concerns

Where health concerns related to COVID-19 are a factor, such as someone in the household is exhibiting symptoms or signs of illness, California courts are urging parents to contact a doctor immediately and carefully follow any medical advice.

Other considerations should include whether:

  • anyone has exhibited symptoms in either household;

  • anyone has knowingly been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19; or

  • there are any health compromised individuals, such as elders or someone whose immune system is weak, in either household.

Where the answer to any of these considerations is “yes,” parents should work together and implement a plan to safely continue contact with the child remotely through the use of technology.

Common Custody Issues

Other common issues that have arisen between two parties involved in a child custody agreement during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • Parents who live in different states not wanting their children to travel

  • Parents being unable to pick up children from school and other previously agreed upon locations

  • One parent not abiding by social distancing or quarantine orders

  • Difficulty making child care arrangements with children being home while both parents work

  • One or both parents testing positive for COVID-19 and not wanting to expose their child

With the spread of the virus, these types of problems are becoming more widespread. In order to determine the best course of action, your best option is to work with a skilled family law attorney to get answers to your questions and pursue a resolution that is best for your child.

When Changes to Existing Orders Are Needed

If children or parents have been exposed to COVID, are exhibiting symptoms, or the child is at high-risk and the parents cannot reach a mutually acceptable temporary plan, a family law attorney can provide assistance. The courts will only step in under extreme circumstances such as in the case of domestic violence.

Rather than try to navigate the complicated social landscape in which everyone now must live during the pandemic on your own, you can turn to a legal professional for the direction and representation you need.

Child Custody Attorney Serving Los Angeles & Southern California

If you need help with family law matters including child custody issues in the greater Los Angeles area, your best option is to turn to a seasoned attorney for help. With more than four decades of experience, attorney Karen S. Brown will work to learn the details of your situation and explain the options that are available to you. The Law Office of Karen S. Brown proudly serves clients in San Bernardino County, Orange County, Ventura County, and throughout the greater Los Angeles, California area.