Following Child Custody Orders During the Quarantine
April 21, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every facet of American life. The most critical element in adhering to newly enacted pandemic policies has been social distancing. For most people in Georgia, social distancing has meant staying home or limiting interaction with other people in public.
However, shelter-in-place rules do not supersede custody orders. As such, parents who are sharing custody of their children should continue to follow custody orders as closely as possible unless an alternate agreement has been made. Furthermore, courts recognize that denying custody is still a legal violation that could result in serious penalties.
While the stay-at-home orders vary slightly from state to state, you must understand as a Georgia resident that right now, the exchange of children is considered an “essential service.” This means that each parent must observe the existing order according to the legal arrangement.
Exceptions to the Custody Order
Georgia law has made allowances for parents to exclude their children from the custody order based on specified conditions such as:
Irresponsible Parental Behavior
Regardless of the COVID-19 quarantine mandate, a parent may potentially expose their child to the virus as a result of negligent or reckless behavior. For instance, a parent may take a child to a highly-populated area where the risk of infection is higher. If so, the other parent may have the right to file contempt against the negligent parent.
The Parent Or Child May Have COVID-19
If the child or the parent who currently has custody of the child exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, they may be able to maintain custody of the child until both are cured of the virus. The parent may be required to provide evidence of either symptoms or virus infection.
The Parent Or Child May Be High-Risk for COVID-19
If the child or the parent is high-risk for contracting COVID-19, they may be able to withhold the child from the other parent, if the other parent either has COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19. In addition, they may withhold the child if they suspect that the other parent is acting irresponsibly, putting the child at greater risk.
Any parent who withholds their child from the other parent must act responsibly, communicating the exact reasons why they are not adhering to the child custody order. Furthermore, they must still work within the court system and not make decisions of their own accord. If things are not done appropriately, the parent holding the child may still be found to be in violation of the custody order.
Consulting a Child Custody Lawyer in Lithonia, Georgia
Any parent who wants to withhold their child from the other parent for COVID-19-related reasons should consult a child custody lawyer in Lithonia, Georgia. Law firms are now providing online, video, and remote legal services in child custody cases. Parents who have questions about their legal options or need assistance can contact an attorney and receive legal counsel and representation.
An attorney can provide counsel, investigate a child custody dispute, gather paperwork and evidence to build a case, and pursue litigation in court. The quarantine does not prohibit an attorney from performing all the duties that they would normally perform in their office.
Let Noreen Help You with Your Case
While the pandemic may be difficult to handle, a child custody conflict can be even more challenging. E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC provides comprehensive legal services for parents who are faced with custody issues due to the COVID-19 virus. Attorney Noreen Banks-Ware has the knowledge and experience to help you navigate your child custody matters. To find out more about what legal services are available, contact her law firm today to schedule a consultation.