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COVID-19 Continues to Complicate Many Child Custody Arrangements

When parents of minor children break up, they and their lawyers establish custody and visitation terms that should address various situations that might arise over the years to come. A sound parenting plan might cover medical care, school vacations, extracurricular activities and college funding. This averts future conflicts and ensures that everyone understands how these circumstances will be handled. However, until early 2020, no one thought about negotiating pandemic-related terms while going through a divorce.

During the spring months of 2020, it seemed natural for many families to lock down and make temporary adjustments to their visitation schedules, figuring the COVID-19 pandemic would soon be an unfortunate memory. However, more than two years after the coronavirus first entered the United States, parents are engaged in various types of custody disputes stemming from the pandemic. Particular areas of conflict include:

  • Vaccines — Across the country, an emotional debate about the safety and efficacy of vaccines has raged. Parents often share legal custody over decisions relating to medical treatment, but never suspected that there could be such a serious disagreement over a healthcare matter. Discussing your concerns calmly is in everyone’s best interests.
  • Masking — Mask requirements can change from state to state and even day to day. Some people are worried that children might experience negative physical or emotional effects from covering their faces. Even if you disagree with your co-parent about this, it’s smart to treat their opinion with respect.
  • Activities — Most schools have returned to in-person instruction, but children’s lives involve much more than going to class, and parents might have widely divergent comfort levels regarding various voluntary activities. You might want to work out guidelines regarding sports, artistic endeavors, plane travel and other situations where your son or daughter might be in close contact with others.

No one can foresee how long we’ll be dealing with COVID-19 or if some new health problem will force parents to re-evaluate the choices they make for their children. For the time being, it is wise to raise these issues promptly and retain a family lawyer who knows how to find common ground when parents disagree about issues such as masks and vaccines.

Whether you’re just starting the divorce process or having trouble co-existing under a custody order that is currently in place, Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP offers knowledgeable advice and effective advocacy. Our attorneys help parents in Nassau and Suffolk counties assert their parental rights and pursue solutions that enable everyone to focus on what is best for the children.