As 2020 draws to a close, COVID-19 numbers are beginning to increase again, and schools are changing their reopening plans. In NJ, as is the case in many states, local school districts are making different decisions based on the percent of positive COVID-19 cases in their area. The unpredictable nature of these decisions create challenges for working parents, especially those with custody agreements.
School Closings and COVID-19
Some parents may be concerned that the current custody arrangement does work well given COVDI-19 closures. For example, suppose the parent that typically has the kids on the weekdays is in an area where schools are only virtual, and the parent who typically has the kids on the weekend is in an area where schools are in-person. In that case, there may be some desire to change custody plans. However, any shifts in custody need appropriate consultation. Any unilateral changes to custody and visitation rights create risks for a parent that could lead to future court action could even lead to criminal charges. To avoid such risks, parents should talk with one another about options and seek legal consultation to make any necessary changes.
NJ Quarantine Requirements for Out of State Parents
Another issue in NJ exists for parents that work in states with high levels of COVID-19 and need to come to NJ to pick up kids. NJ still requires out of state visitors from certain states to quarantine for 14 days. While there is no fine for disobeying this rule, a coparent may demand that the out-of state-parent comply to decrease risks to the children.
COVID-19 and Accessing Courts
One more concern related to COVID-19 and custody is the speed at which courts can manage custody matters. Courts have a backlog in NJ and also in many other states. In NJ, divorce cases are being managed remotely, but even with this continued operation, delays can take place. Also, some cases are more complex and require in-person court proceedings. These may be slow to occur with COVID-19 limiting the activity of courts.
We Can Help
Every family is unique, and each parent's requirements for how custody should be handled during the COVID-19 pandemic are different – as is each New Jersey county's specific Family Court proceedings. Having an experienced New Jersey family lawyer is imperative to your success. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is passionate about keeping families together. He works tirelessly to ensure your child's custody plan is formulated in their best interests in mind. The coronavirus has destroyed countless families, and it has yet to slow down. Having a contingency plan in place that includes an experienced family law attorney will mitigate this devastating virus's consequences on your family. Don't get lost in the complexities of these issues. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.