COVID-19 is scary. Custody exchanges in the pandemic terrify many parents. You may be wondering: can I deny parenting due to Covid-19? Or, can my ex deny parenting time to me? The short answer is “no”. We recommend compliance with all existing court orders. If your court order provides requires parenting time exchanges, then follow the court order.
There are exceptions to this rule. For instance, what if your child or the other co-parent has COVID-19? The answer to this question depends on your custody order. If you are able to speak to the co-parent in a safe manner, the first step is to communicate regarding the infection. If this does not work, we recommend you contact your family law attorney to assist you. Our experienced San Francisco Bay Area family law attorneys at Warren Major LLP are here to serve you during the most difficult of times. This article provides helpful insights to be aware of during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CHILD CUSTODY LAWS
If you are a parent without current child custody in place, you have a right to the physical custody of your child. If the other parent is refusing to let you see your child, you may file a petition for a child custody order right now. California’s policy is for both parents to have frequent and continuing contact with their child because it is in the child’s best interest. Courts do not always order 50/50 child custody. Some parents are not available 50% of the time but still have a right to be with their children. Courts will generally award custody time to a parent who’s able to make the decisions regarding a child’s health, education, and welfare if it is in that child’s best interest.
CHILD CUSTODY ORDERS
Pursuant to Family Code section 2040, when a case is filed, automatic temporary restraining orders are in place. These restraining orders prevent a parent from leaving the State with a minor child without a court order or written agreement.
California state policy is to make legal and physical custody orders to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of a child. Family Code section 3020. If you need child support, Family Code section 4053 provides that child support will be calculated based on the California guideline calculator. This calculator considers percentage of custodial time each parent spends with the child and their respective incomes. These numbers are used to determine if either party is entitled to child support.
If the other parent violates a child custody order, the police may be called. Also, a motion for contempt may be filed against a parent who has not complied with a child custody or support order.
DENYING CUSTODY TIME DUE TO COVID-19
Parents ask “can I deny my ex custody time because of his or her failure to take Covid-19 precautions seriously?” The short answer again is no. If you have a current custody order, you must follow it. If the other co-parent is endangering your child, contact an attorney. As discussed below, you may need to file an ex-parte request for a modification to your custody order.
EMERGENCY CUSTODY ORDERS DUE TO COVID-19
Has your ex recently tested positive for Covid-10? Recently travelled outside of California, or has been in contact with another person who has tested positive for Covid-19? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, you have every right to protect your child in a legal manner. Many parents will first attempt to reason with the other co-parent. Some offer to facilitate parenting time via Skype, WhatsApp or FaceTime during a mandatory quarantine period. Sometimes informal negotiating does not work. In that case, you may need to consult with an attorney.
Our team at Warren Major LLP is available to address your urgent custody needs. This includes filing an ex-parte application for an emergency custody order. We care about you in these financially challenging times. We are now offering free 15-minute consultations if you are in need. Contact Warren Major LLP today.