Nearly every aspect of life has been complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic, including co-parenting. Even in the best of times, successful co-parenting requires divorced parents to focus not only on their child’s upbringing and well-being but also on cordial cooperation with each other – not always an easy task.
The ongoing national health crisis has for anxious parents piled worries about schooling on top of constant concerns about how to keep their kids’ safe, active and healthy, all while being holed up at home.
Co-parents must contend with all of that while simultaneously navigating often complicated relationships with their ex.
Difficulties negotiating and settling
Some issues – such as children having more freedom with one parent than the other – become more difficult during the pandemic for co-parents to negotiate amicably and settle because of fears about the safety of the child. In some situations, parents have contacted family law attorneys and taken their disagreements to court.
It should be noted that the Orange County court system is itself struggling with pandemic-related issues such as reduced schedules and backlog.
Questions on the rise
A family attorney recently interviewed by the Washington Post said her firm has seen a spike in contacts about child custody and visitation.
“I’ve been advising clients do as much as they can without the courts,” she said. “The interesting thing is that Covid hasn’t enticed people to settle.”
Here’s what California says
The state says on its Judicial Branch of California site that “generally, child custody and visitation (parenting time) orders must be followed.” It acknowledges that “parents may find it difficult to follow the current orders” and that it might also be hard to promptly obtain new court orders because some courts are closed or offering limited services.
The state urges divorced parents to “work together to make a temporary, written agreement to change the court order,” if needed.
“Because the health and safety of the child can be a major concern, parents should talk about whether the child custody and visitation orders can be followed safely given COVID-19 ‘stay-at-home’ orders,” the state says.
Orange County limitations
Orange County Superior Court is open for “limited in-person services,” it says on the court’s website, cautioning that “members of the public should NOT visit a courthouse unless they have been notified by the Court that they have an in-person hearing or they have scheduled an appointment to enter the building for counter services.”
Family Court Services are available by phone only Monday through Friday from 8 am to noon and from 1 pm to 5 pm for questions regarding mediation or investigations.