Visitation and Custody with COVID/Corona concerns

Parents sharing custody have questions about how Corona Virus/COVID-19 affects their possession and access (custody) order. If there is a shelter-in-place order do the child(ren) still have to go with the other parent or should they stay in one parent’s house? If a school district “extends” spring break, or cancels the school year and now deems it “Summer break” for the students, does that mean a parent’s spring break holiday possession is also extended?

Shelter in place orders being issued by the larger Cities and Counties should not be used to deny custody to one parent. The Texas Supreme Court has issued an Opinion , their seventh opinion during the Corona/Covid crisis, specifically saying any shelter in place order shall not affect a Court-Order possession and access schedule. Parents are free to alter the possession schedule of both parents are in agreement.

Extensions of Spring Break, or cancellation of the school year, by a school district shall not mean a parent who has possession over the holiday then has an extended possession time with the children. Parents should continue to follow the same schedule as before. The Texas Supreme Court has issued a Opinion, their second opinion during the Corona/Covid crisis, specifically saying the school’s original published school schedule shall control. Possession and access shall not be affected by the school’s closure or change in holiday schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents are still free to agree to an alternative schedule.

In short, do not deny a parent their time with the children using any COVID-19 or Corona panic. Do not deny a parent their time with the children because of a convenient school schedule change. Follow the same schedule as before. Naturally, on a case-by-case basis, if a confirmed COVID diagnosis has occurred in one parent’s house then denial of custody may be warranted. Fear of “possible” exposure or one parents perception of the other parent’s poor social distancing standards is not enough.

Emergency Motions can be filed requesting changes to the custody schedule, but extreme caution should be taken as Courts have limited availability during this time period. A consultation with a local family law attorney in your area will help you make the determination on whether a visitation schedule change may be warranted in your case.

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