Custody, the Holidays, and COVID-19

Custody, Holidays, and COVID-19

Navigating custody during the holidays can be difficult during a normal year, but 2020 has brought additional issues to work around. The jump in COVID-19 cases has many people concerned. Given that it’s happening right before the holidays and latest research shows small, under-the-radar gatherings are contributing heavily to this spike in cases, what can you do?

First, it’s important to remember the courts in North Carolina do not recognize COVID-19 as a valid reason to deny visitation. This means even if the other parent doesn’t take the same precautions as you, you cannot deny them visitation. If you have a court order or parenting plan, you’ll need to follow it—and vice versa if the other parent tries to deny you visitation.

If you can, try to talk about your plans for the holidays, including whether you plan to participate in any family gatherings with the children. However, if you and the other parent are involved in a high-conflict custody case, this may not be possible. If the other parent won’t share details, you can’t force them. Although, if they plan to travel and your custody order requires they share certain travel information, they should provide those details.

Currently, North Carolina doesn’t have restrictions on out-of-state travel. If you or the other parent lives out of state or plans to travel out of state, plan to follow CDC recommendations regarding out-of-state travel. While there are no restrictions on flying, if the other parent lives out of state and the child usually flies to visit them, it may be worth discussing the possibility of driving to do the exchange instead.

With over one million confirmed COVD-19 cases in the US this past week, it’s important to consider the safest way of celebrating the holidays this year. The CDC has a detailed list of considerations and recommendations for hosting during the holidays. Lower risk activities include having a small dinner with only people who live in your household, contactless delivery of home-cooked meals to high-risk neighbors, and hosting virtual dinners.

If you’re going through a custody battle and have questions about your legal rights, contact our office to schedule a consultation. Our experienced family law attorneys can discuss your case and provide a plan for moving forward.

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