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COVID-19 and Parenting Orders

The attorneys at GillespieShields practice family, employment, civil, criminal, probate, appellate, and immigration law.

Parenting Orders During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A frequent question child custody clients have asked us is should their parenting orders still be strictly followed in light of Governor Ducey’s COVID-19 executive orders to stay home.

The short answer is, yes.

The longer answer has been provided by the Maricopa County Superior Court, who recently issued a comprehensive statement on the subject. We encourage you to read it, but the bottom line is this. It is important to maintain the terms of your child custody agreement despite the current difficulties.

The longer answer has been provided by the Maricopa County Superior Court, who recently issued a comprehensive statement on the subject. We encourage you to read it, but the bottom line is this. It is important to maintain the terms of your child custody agreement despite the current difficulties.

If the quarantine causes real custody concerns that affect the welfare of your child, seeking help from a child custody lawyer is advised. Here’s why you may need a qualified family law attorney by your side.

Now, as always, an order is an order unless and until it is modified. This is true when it comes to visitation, child support payments, and all other elements of the order. It is even true when parents lose track of the details. Parents often make informal changes to the arrangements, but this can become a problem when a big issue, such as the quarantine, comes into play.

We have seen many, many parents/clients get into trouble when they try to do this on their own. You don’t want to accidentally give the court reasons to modify child custody in a way detrimental to your interests.

As such, any agreement should be in writing. It should be clear and unequivocal. I can’t tell you how many times through the years a client has told me he or she has reached an agreement with the other side. My first inquiry is whether it’s in writing. (It usually isn’t.) If it’s not in writing, it’s not an agreement. My second inquiry is to see the “agreement.” More often than not, I have to tell the client that the agreement is not clear enough or simply isn’t an agreement at all. Many “agreements” do not address a time frame. That leads to more questions about how long the agreement is supposed to last, which is especially important for any temporary arrangements. There are other concerns, but the point is, when we run into one of these complications, something that was in theory simple is no longer simple, and bad things result, like contempt petitions, nasty letters from lawyers, or police calls. Moral of the story: You are always free to reach agreements, but please talk with a child custody lawyer to make sure it’s done correctly.

Another main point is to think with your head. If you or your child is showing COVID 19 symptoms, be a responsible adult about it and take the proper steps.

At Gillespie, Shields, Goldfarb & Taylor, we are here for you. We continue to keep our offices well staffed. We are happy to help any way we can. Hang in there. We will all get through this together.

Disclaimer

The information contained on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for legal advice concerning your individual situation. We welcome you to contact us via phone, electronic mail, or through this website. However, contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send us confidential information until such time as an attorney-client relationship is established.

 

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