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children of divorce

Can we temporarily change our parenting plan by verbal agreement until quarantine is over?

children of divorce

Question:

Can we temporarily change our parenting plan by verbal agreement until quarantine is over?

Answer:

I practice law in the state of South Carolina. Unless you live there, I cannot inform you as to the specific laws of your state, but I can give you some general observations on family law issues and how they are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, based on the jurisdiction where I practice.

The answer is yes, and it highly is encouraged that parents be reasonable in attaining such an agreement. It is inevitable that both parties will experience some roadblock that renders their rights short of what is court ordered. Both parents should expect to make concessions for the other to abide by the spirit of the agreement as much as possible. A family court judge undoubtedly will respect the parties and their decisions considering the circumstances.

If you are the parent being asked to make a change in the parenting plan, then you should consider these requests. Keep in mind that your conduct can be scrutinized by a judge if the facts show that you were not being reasonable under the circumstances. It also is important that you make clear to the other parent that the change strictly is intended until such times as things get back to normal. You should be careful in not allowing the other party to misconstrue the change as a new agreement, but rather a temporary agreement.

If you are the parent requesting for a change in the parenting plan, then you should memorialize these communications whether the changes are consented to or not. Memorialized communications can be recorded through text message, email, or any other form of written communication wherein you can justify the other party’s intent. If the changes are not consented to by the other party, then these communications will come in handy when illustrating to a family court judge the conduct of the other parent should you need to go to court in the future. Similarly, these memorialized communications will protect the requesting parent should the other party claim some violation of the Agreement in the future. The bottom line is that written communication is key when communicating with the other parent.

Due to the fact-specific nature of this situation, I would strongly suggest you contact an attorney who handles family law matters in your jurisdiction to see how your state’s laws specifically can help you with this serious situation. This type of attorney should be helpful in providing you specific assistance for your matter. Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than tips, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your jurisdiction to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they particularly impact your potential case.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including South Carolina divorce attorney Chris Jacobcontact Cordell & Cordell.

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Surviving Marriage During the Coronavirus Quarantine

Surviving Marriage During the Coronavirus Quarantine

Living in such close quarters during coronavirus may cause some strife during marriage. Here are tips on surviving marriage during qurantine.

The post Surviving Marriage During the Coronavirus Quarantine appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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How Does Shared Custody Work Between Separate States During COVID-19 Quarantine?

How Does Shared Custody Work Between Separate States During COVID-19 Quarantine?

Question:

What is the procedure when traveling across state lines during COVID-19 quarantine, when you share custody?

Answer:

Texas attorney Ashleigh Bearden

As I am barred only in Texas, I cannot provide specific legal tips with regard to your state in particular. However, I can provide some general guidance that may help you navigate your child custody issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

No nationwide domestic travel prohibitions have been issued, and air and ground travel continues. However, many states have issued orders restricting both interstate and intrastate travel. Some have restricted all non-essential travel and further clarified their orders by defining what travel is considered essential.

Before traveling to exchange your children with your former spouse, consult your state’s executive orders, those in your former spouse’s state, and — if traveling by car — those in the states you will travel through for the exchange. If none of these states restrict travel, you likely are free to proceed with the exchange.

Keep in mind that a state’s stay-at-home order may define travel for these purposes as essential further into the document. Additionally, the order explicitly may not make mention of custody or children, but still may provide that travel for purposes of compliance with a court order is essential.

For example, the order may read similarly to the following: “Individuals may leave their residences for the purposes of traveling required by a court order.” This will apply to any order of the court, including any orders entered pursuant to your divorce or custody matter, so be sure to read the orders carefully and completely.

Additionally, be aware that some states specifically have issued orders regulating travel from certain states or localities. For example, Texas has ordered mandatory 14-day self-quarantines for people traveling by air from certain states, and previously implemented ground checkpoints to identify travelers from Louisiana. Keep in mind that you may be affected by travel restrictions like this.

If you plan to travel by air, be aware that the TSA has implemented social distancing procedures and modified their operations. Recent policies include an allowance for wearing a facemask during screening. However, the agency states that “a TSA officer may ask you to adjust the mask to visually confirm your identity.”

If you find that such travel is not restricted by your state, your ex-spouse’s state, or those states you will travel through by car, and your former spouse refuses to comply with your court-ordered custody or possession agreement, consider consulting a Cordell & Cordell attorney to seek enforcement of your parental rights. Bearing in mind the laws in your state, keep records of your former spouse’s refusal to comply and their stated reasons for doing so.

Regardless of whether you are able to facilitate exchange prior to the end of travel restrictions, these may be helpful to your attorney in the future.

If, however, any of the state orders restrict travel and do not provide clarification on whether travel for the exchange of children under a court order, or for purposes of complying with a court order in general, you should seek legal assistance from an attorney barred in your state.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Texas divorce lawyer Ashleigh Beardencontact Cordell & Cordell.

The post How Does Shared Custody Work Between Separate States During COVID-19 Quarantine? appeared first on Dads Divorce.

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parenting time

Can I make up lost parenting time due to quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic?

parenting time

Question:

Can I make up lost parenting time due to quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Answer:

I practice law in the state Ohio. Unless you live there, I
cannot inform you as to the specific laws of your state, but I can provide you
with general tips in divorce and child custody, as it relates to the COVID-19
pandemic.

Ohio courts have been very clear on this point. They have
indicated that all parenting exchanges and schedules continue to be in full
force and effect. If your child has not been on spring break yet, any time off
due to the pandemic would be deemed regular parenting time, and the scheduled
spring break would still be treated separately under the holiday schedule of
your county or orders governing your parenting time currently in effect.

However, if parenting time is missed, the courts will most
likely grant make-up time after restrictions have been relaxed. I have been
recommending agreement on the make-up time before forgoing the parenting time
itself to all my clients.

While it is clear the courts will still expect people to
follow the current orders, it is unclear whether such denials of parenting time
will result in findings of contempt. Under Ohio law, if there is a finding of
contempt, you can be entitled to receive a portion or even all your attorney
fees spent to prosecute the action.

However, the court has a lot of discretion in making those
awards. As such, I have concerns that the courts will likely find the denial of
parenting time during the pandemic a reasonable reaction, and thus, not
egregious enough to result in an attorney fee award. While this assessment may
be incorrect, it has been my experience that you only receive a portion of
attorney fees, never the whole amount even in the strongest of cases.
Therefore, I suggest establishing the make-up parenting time dates prior to
conceding parenting time.

I want to stress that this is in relation to the Ohio laws
and orders currently in effect. These health measures change almost daily, so
you need to be sure you are following up with the numerous resources offered
through your state to check and see what the current orders are. Many states
that have taken such measures still have carved out exceptions that include
parenting time exchanges, so again, be sure to carefully read the current
orders in effect.

Finally, if there is a lockdown and parenting exchanges
are not excluded, I would still expect courts to grant make-up parenting time
for any time missed during the pandemic.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for
men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including 
Ohio divorce lawyer Daniel
White, 
contact Cordell
& Cordell
.

The post Can I make up lost parenting time due to quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic? appeared first on Dads Divorce.

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How To Survive Co-parenting In Quarantine – The Impact Of Coronavirus

How To Survive Co-parenting In Quarantine – The Impact Of Coronavirus

I honestly never expected to be writing a blog like this.  We are in uncharted water and very scary times. On top of health concerns everyone is worrying about their financial futures as this virus is sure to have an economic impact on the whole world.  

For some parents, there is also the added worry of how this is going to affect their co-parenting relationship and contact with their children.

I can’t do anything to offer any support around the health and financial issues so I wanted to offer my advice on something I do know about.

corona virus briefing

Current Situation

At a national level the current advice from the UK government is to avoid “non-essential contact”, stay home for 14 days if you live with someone with a cough or temperature and schools to remain open for now.  Things are changing on a daily basis as we learn more about the virus but this is where we stand and that is already causing issues for parents.

Many parents are refusing to return children after contact or claiming self isolation and cancelling contact.  Whilst I am not saying that in some cases this is absolutely the right thing to do, I am also aware that there are cases where parents are using this to restrict contact and alienate the other parent.  Essentially the government are giving permission for abusive people to isolate their victims.  Again, this is not to say that reducing contact isn’t a necessary step, just an acknowledgement that abusive parents will and are using the advice to their advantage (as predicted in my previous blog).

Reality 

What is confusing for many parents is the dilemma of following government advice and reducing contact and self isolating to protect others including their own children, knowing that if they cancel, it will be used as a weapon to beat them by the other parent who will create the narrative of “they don’t care about you”.  Some parents may even accuse the other parent of being unsafe because they take them out and so refuse contact to keep them safe.  It is a real mine field.

The reality of this is that it has created a real paradox and cognitive dissonance in many people.  They hold two very different but valid opinions about the same thing.  This confusion can be very triggering for victims of abuse because this is exactly what they experienced during the relationship.  So not only are people confused and scared by the outbreak, they are also reliving their past trauma at the same time.  Which is why it is so important you learn how to manage this situation.

3 Ways To Manage Quarantine

Practical Steps

If you aren’t able to see your children, keep communication lines open.  Arrange regular telephone or video calls, send letters, care packages, use social media.  Get creative in ways to stay in touch.  Military families spend months away from their families and the bond between them and their children does not diminish and so this doesn’t have to either.

If your ex is not supportive of contact, record videos and either save them to your phone, laptop or upload them onto video sharing platforms (private setting) so that you can show them your “video diary” at a later date.  This is one of the biggest things we as a society will ever go through in our life time and so keeping a record will be really helpful for both you and your children once everything settles.  You can send letters (unless you have a court order which specifically states you can’t) but there is no guarantee they will get them but if you send them recorded you can again provide evidence when you are able to. 

As adults this is a really scary time and the children will pick up on that even if they are not old enough to know what is going on.  Help to reduce their anxiety by exploring their understanding of what is going on and offer an explanation (age appropriate) if necessary.  If you are stuck at home, plan activities and keep them entertained.  The truth is being stuck indoors without a break for 14 days (or however long this goes on for) is not going to be fun for anyone.  There will be a lot of pent up energy and anxiety which can cause arguments and definitely put a strain on even the best relationships.  Think of ways you can work through that.  Having a plan in advance really will help.

Finally, keep yourself safe and well.  Follow the guidance but try not to get obsessed with it.  The press and even social media are fear mongering and that can add to your anxiety.  Limit your news watching/paper reading/ social media time to reduce your anxiety levels.

Responses

If your ex is playing up and refusing contact on the grounds of self isolation which you feel is unnecessary, let it go.  The reality is that there is nothing you can do.  They have a legitimate excuse now to cut contact and arguing with them only fuels their ego.  They love to know they are hurting you so a simple “thank you for keeping our child safe” will suffice.  Again this is unprecedented territory and we have no way of knowing what is coming next.  Save your energy for the long game. 

If they refuse to allow you to talk to your children during this, again save your energy.  Yes it is cruel and vindictive and not in the child’s best interests but there is nothing you can do.  In all likelihood courts will be closed shortly and so there is nowhere to turn.  You have to find your own way through this.  I do not say that flippantly, I appreciate how tough this is.  But I have learnt the hard way that worry and anger do nothing to move you towards your goal and so focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t.

Your children may have a lot of questions about what is happening.  Be aware of your own feelings about this before you respond.  It can be really easy to transfer our fears onto our children and so being aware of how we feel can help to manage that.  They are seeking reassurance and comfort from you and so try to stay positive.  We will get through this.

Emotions

You may feel scared.  You are probably worried about yourself, your children and elderly relatives.  Maybe even for society as a whole.  That is normal and natural.  It is something we have no idea of how it is going to go. The unknown is scary.  Add to that the added implications on our finances and it could be easy to drown under all the difficulties.  Managing fear can be difficult, especially when we are being bombarded with worse case and apocalyptic scenarios.  As previously stated, I recommend limiting your time watching the news/reading newspapers/social media to keep on top of the fear. 

Get in touch with where in your body the feeling is because the simple act of acknowledging the physical sensations can be enough to reduce the feeling.  

Practice 4-2-4 breathing if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with panic.  Breath in for a count of 4, hold for 2 and out for 4.

It can be frustrating being kept from your children and also being told by the government how to live your life, it can feel very controlling and abusive when this is the environment you have experienced in the past.  But it really is a wasted emotions.  It achieves nothing.  Right now there is no rule book about what is happening and so where possible, you have to go with it.  Try to keep your emotions in check and focus on staying safe and healthy. 

Obviously being way from your children will feel like a terrible loss and you may experience grief.  It’s important to allow those feelings to flow.  Grief is a cycle between denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance.  Try not to get stuck in any one of those stages.  The next stage will come but it isn’t linear.  You will go back and forth.  It’s all normal and natural.  Don’t fight it, it shows how much you love them and that in itself can be a comfort.  It wouldn’t hurt so much if you didn’t love them so much.

If you are self isolated or we are forced into lockdown, try to stay busy.  Talk to friends over Skype, Facetime or other video call services.  Read the books you have always meant to.  Start a new hobby.  You could start a business.  Make some changes round the house.  I always find moving my furniture quite therapeutic!  If you can find the best in this situation, you will fare far better.

Finally the prospect of being in isolation can be very worrying and scary to many people.  Humans are social creatures and to be potentially forced to stay away from others is going to feel really unnatural.  Please know that support is out there. Just because it isn’t face to face doesn’t mean that you can’t get help.  We at The Nurturing Coach have introduced weekly online support groups to help you through this period of uncertainly.  Do join us, it can really help to talk to others.  

 

I hope this has offered some guidance for you.  I appreciate it is a difficult time and I certainly don’t have all the answers but I wanted to offer something.  Do stay safe everyone.  Take care.

The post How To Survive Co-parenting In Quarantine – The Impact Of Coronavirus appeared first on The Nurturing Coach.

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