If you have been able to hang on to your employment during the COVID-19 pandemic while also trying to care for your children as part of your custody agreement, you have probably been struggling to find child care or alternative measures for watching the children while you try to do your job. There is now good news—the New Jersey legislature recently passed a series of bills designed to help New Jersey workers who need to take time off to care for family members during the pandemic, and Governor Phil Murphy has signed them into law.
The bill, S-2374, expands the list of workers who can take up to 12 weeks of family leave time within a two-year period to care for family members, meaning you cannot be fired for having to take time off to care for your children. This includes caring for children who are now at home because of school closures. Schools in New Jersey were closed on March 16 and are now closed for the rest of the academic year.
Coping with Custody During a Pandemic
It is hard enough to go through a divorce and come up with a child custody agreement that is agreeable to both parents, but managing an agreement during a pandemic of a communicable disease can be enough to really put a person over the edge. If you had managed to come to a fair agreement, you may have been worried that your ex-spouse would try to claim that you were not abiding by the agreement because you were not providing reasonable care for them while going to work.
Or maybe your ex-spouse has threatened to modify your custody agreement so that they have primary care of the children. The good news is that the courts continue to be closed, and any non-emergency custody modifications are being delayed until further notice. This gives you time to try and maintain the agreement as it was filed in court before the pandemic.
Now, more than ever, is the time to set aside your differences with your ex-partner and communicate in a non-judgmental type of way. If you are the parent who does not have sole custody of the children and your ex has announced they are ending your visits during the novel coronavirus outbreak, there is little you can do with the courts being closed. Ask if you can at least have daily communications with the children over Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime, and understand that during these trying times, we're all having to live and adapt to extremely challenging decisions.
Once the pandemic has peaked and life starts going back to normal, your custody arrangement should go back to what it was before. If your former partner refuses, then it will be time to contact a New Jersey family law attorney who will fight for your rights and help you come to a resolution that suits both of you. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is seasoned in child custody agreements and modifications. Call his firm today at 888-535-3686.