Mother comforting her child

Child Custody and Visitation and the Coronavirus

Q: What issues are divorced parents facing from the Coronavirus pandemic?

Phoenix divorce attorneys are used to dealing with clients complaining that their ex-spouse isn’t complying with child custody, support, or visitation terms. But the coronavirus pandemic has kicked all of that up a notch.

In Arizona, child custody and visitation are referred to as legal decision-making and parenting time, respectively. 

Legal decision-making is the ability of a parent to make important life decisions on behalf of their child-related to items like their education, healthcare, religion, extracurricular activities, and more. Parenting time, or visitation, is the physical time the child can spend with each parent. Generally, absent special circumstances, it’s in the best interest of the children for the parents to share legal decision-making and parenting time after a divorce.

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has caused a crisis that’s uprooted the lives of adults and children all over the country, but for adults and children of divorce or separation, there are additional stressors to consider. And with government directives from federal, state, and county officials changing on an almost daily basis, there may be logistical problems for divorced couples to navigate regarding custody, support, and visitation– – and, sadly, opportunities for some exes to attempt to avoid their legal obligations. 

With the possibility of getting hauled into court quickly being seriously restricted during the pandemic, delinquent or argumentative parents may take advantage of the widespread national closures of most courthouses and circumvent their obligations to pay support or comply with visitation schedules.

Custody and visitation concerns during COVID-19

Some of the delicate issues and challenges divorced parents are facing include safety issues of transferring children between two households during the pandemic and include, but are not limited to:

  • whether essential workers who could potentially expose the children to the coronavirus should have regular parenting time
  • where the children will go if a parent contracts the virus
  • what if one or both parents lose their jobs and can’t pay child support or alimony
  • what if one parent is not practicing safe “social distancing”
  • what if one parent refuses to grant the other visitation.

These issues and more may force divorced couples to try to navigate these new obstacles in a spirit of cooperation while others may use the pandemic to keep the children away from the other parent. It’d be wise for parents to maintain copies of email and text records concerning their communication with their exes during this time in the event court intervention ultimately becomes necessary to address the issues.

If you are considering getting divorced in Arizona, have been served with divorce papers, or have any questions regarding any family law matter, Cohen Family Law can help you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. 

From our office in Phoenix, we represent clients throughout Arizona in all aspects of family law. We provide aggressive advocacy and a non-judgmental, compassionate approach to navigating our clients’ family law matters. It’s all we do.