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Covid-19 has turned our world upside down. Even things that we take for granted have to be thought through carefully. Our office has had inquiries from concerned parents about how to handle child visitation during covid-19.
- Understand that whatever court orders you have now are still in effect. This includes custody and visitation orders, even if inconvenient and even if you disagree.
- If you violate a court order, there can be consequences. If you decide not to send your child to visitation as the court order says, your ex can decide to hire an attorney or file a case for contempt in family court. This can happen even if you believe that you have a very good reason for what you are doing.
- However, you still have the duty to keep your child safe. There are some circumstances where you may think twice about sending your child. If sending your child would be a threat to the child’s health and safety you have a decision to make. Do you refuse to let the child visit and risk legal action against yourself?
- Try to evaluate honestly. Resist the urge to let a negative past history dictate what you decide to do. Realize that if you decide to disregard the orders that you may later have to prove to a judge that you were justified in your belief that your child’s health and safety were seriously at risk.
- Use common sense. What about visitation orders that state that the child will be picked up “at school” when there is no school in session? You do not have to drive to the school for the exchange. Stay as close to the spirit of the orders as possible. For instance, 3:00 PM pickup at your house rather than at school. You won’t be able to tell a judge that you disregarded visitation orders due to school closures.
- How it this like other cases? This pandemic is unprecedented, but parents struggling with difficult visitation decisions is not. We see the same struggle in cases where a parent is court-ordered to send their child to visitation, but is legitimately concerned about the other parent’s behaviors or the environment provided. These cases can be difficult and the answers aren’t always easy or clear.
- What if you are being denied visitation? What if you are seeking to exercise your visitation rights and they are unreasonably being held from you? As stated already, the orders are still in effect, even during this difficult time. If you are unable to work out a reasonable solution with your ex, you can seek legal help to assure that you are doing all you can to see your child.
- Understand that a legal battle should not be taken lightly. It is always difficult on a child to see his/her parents in a legal battle. It would not be easy for you, either. It will cost time and money.
- Mediation can help. Family law mediation is a way to resolve disputes outside of the courtroom. In fact, some decrees even require that mediation be attempted prior to filing a case. If you do become part of a court case, mediation will be required prior to trial. (Note: the mediator cannot also be a hired or a consulting attorney in the case and must be impartial. Therefore, if you are interested only in our firm’s mediation services, rather than speaking with an attorney, please indicate when you first contact us.)
- Good news! You have another option. Get a legal consultation. Speak with a Texas family law attorney who is up-to-date with this rapidly changing situation. She can listen empathetically to the details of your particular situation and give you accurate information about how the family law courts are handling these situations right now. She can also give you feedback and help you see the full picture to guide you in your choices.
- How we can help you. During this difficult time, we are offering 20 minute free consultations by telephone or video. Contact us for an appointment with our family law attorney Sio Ramirez Pitre. She can help you understand your options and make an informed decision. Contact us.