The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted virtually every aspect of our lives in Virginia, including our families. For divorced parents, the pandemic has raised considerable questions about custody and visitation. With healthcare concerns as a major talking point, some parents are asking themselves whether it is safe to send their children back and forth between two different homes. In addition, parents may have differing opinions when it comes to things like vaccinations,mask usage, and CDC guidelines. Some parents may want their children to return to school as soon as possible, while others might want their learners to stick with online education from the safety of their homes. With so many contentious and divisive issues stemming from COVID-19, disputes between divorced parents are inevitable.
If you are thinking about how you might resolve these issues, you may be considering a modification of your child custody agreement or certain visitation rights. These are certainly possible viable options, but you will need assistance from a qualified family law attorney in Virginia in order to pursue a positive legal outcome. There are strict rules when it comes to modifying custody and visitation, and you cannot simply change these agreements whenever you feel like it. Consult with our qualified attorneys, and you can learn exactly when these modifications are warranted.
Disagreements Over Parenting Time
If you and your former spouse cannot agree upon matters related to visitation, you might need to modify your custodial schedule. You may be worried about your child spending time in your own home due to your high-risk occupation. Conversely, you may be concerned about your child spending time at your former spouse’s home.
Temporary modifications to custody and visitation agreements can be arranged if one spouse has been exposed to COVID-19. These modifications might also be possible if your child has a compromised immune system or another vulnerability to the virus. You may also seek to modify your agreement if you believe your former spouse is not following social distancing guidelines and other healthcare recommendations.
Keep in mind that you cannot simply choose to violate an existing custody or visitation agreement without first modifying these agreements and going through the proper legal process. These agreements are strictly enforced, and your concern about the pandemic is not a valid reason for violating them. If you and your former spouse can agree upon the best course of action, these agreements can be modified fairly easily with mutual consent. If you and your former spouse cannot agree on the best course of action, you can expect a more complex legal process that involves a formal hearing. A judge will then decide on the best course of action based on the child’s best interests.
Other Potential Disputes Due to COVID-19
Here are some other potential sources of conflict between parents during the pandemic:
- Disagreements Over In-Person vs. Online Education: You and your former spouse may disagree on whether your child should be attending in-person classes. Various school systems in Virginia have been shut down due to Covid-19 outbreaks. In other areas, parents may have the option to send their children to in-person classes. If parents cannot agree, then a child custody modification may be required.
- Disagreements Over the Vaccine: If one parent believes that the vaccine is not in the child’s best interests, the other parent cannot vaccinate the child. If parents cannot come to a mutual agreement, one will need to file a petition for modification of child support, and a judge will decide on the best course of action based on the child’s best interests.
What Happens When Things Go Back to Normal?
If a modification to a child custody agreement or a visitation agreement is modified due to COVID-19, it may not only be temporary. When COVID-19 ceases to be an issue, the modification may become the permanent custodial arrangement.
Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today
If you have been searching for a family law attorney in Virginia, look no further than NOVA Legal Professionals. We understand that the pandemic has been difficult for everyone, especially families with children. It is obviously in everyone’s best interests for parents to come to a mutual agreement on contentious issues related to the pandemic, but sometimes this just is not possible. If legal action is required, we can help you move forward in an effective, confident manner. Modifying your child custody order is one of the few ways you can exercise your rights as a parent. Book your consultation today, and make sure your voice is heard when it comes to important child-rearing decisions.