Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, households across the country have been disrupted, including child custody dynamics with children and divorced parents. Determining child custody is one of the most sensitive issues for divorcing spouses to resolve in a divorce agreement. A comprehensive child custody agreement is helpful to advance the best interests of the child and support their well-being. However, parents’ ability to adhere to their previously ordered or agreed upon child custody arrangements has become increasingly complicated in the wake of the pandemic.
Child Custody Agreements in General
The basis of devising child custody agreements determines which parent has legal custody and which parent has physical custody. The primary goal of Virginia state statutes and the courts that grant child custody is to act in the child’s best interests. The court will consider numerous factors to determine the custody agreement that best serves the child. The law and the courts generally attempt to grant both parents legal custody of the child. This allows both parents to make decisions and have input in any decisions regarding the child’s welfare.
How Child Custody Agreements Have Been Affected During the Pandemic
For parents whose child custody agreements grant them joint physical custody of their child, the nature of the pandemic may have complicated one or both parents’ abilities to maintain their arrangement. Particularly during the height of the pandemic, when travel, movement, socialization, and physical contact were much more limited, transferring a child between two households may not have been ideal for some parents. These limitations were reasonable for the child’s health, the health of the parents, and their respective households. However, COVID has presented an overall issue for parents wanting to maintain their visitation and physical custody of their child.
Likewise, the changes to how we’ve had to communicate with one another during the pandemic may not have aligned with some parents’ child custody and parenting time agreements. Because child custody and visitation agreements and orders go hand in hand, if adjustments were needed, the effects of those adjustments may carry over into scheduled parenting time.
Even the way a non-custodial parent could communicate with their child may differ in the parenting plan from what was possible during the pandemic. Perhaps the parenting plan didn’t address using Zoom to see and speak to a child in lieu of physical, in-person communication. But due to COVID, a non-custodial parent speaking to their child via video conferencing apps may be the most feasible and safe option.
Lastly, the pandemic has also affected some parents’ ability to functionally maintain their custody arrangements. Parents across the country have struggled with work closures, school closures, and contracting COVID themselves. With school closures, particularly, parents have had to adapt, adjusting their work schedules to accommodate caring for their children now at home. But for many parents, the frequency and uncertainty of these changes have affected their ability to care for their children during the times the child is supposed to be in their physical custody.
Contact the Child Custody Lawyers at Deering Hedrick Today
If the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted your parenting and child custody agreement, the Virginia family law legal team at Deering Hedrick can help advocate for the best options in your child custody agreement.
Virginia Attorney Mike Deering has years of experience representing parents with child custody agreements, including the need for modifications. He understands the importance of reaching a tenable resolution to these delicate matters and doing so as smoothly as possible.
For help with your child custody issues, call us immediately at 757-383-6848 or complete our contact form, and we’ll reach out to you right away.