Child custody concerns have always been at the forefront of New York Family Court deliberations and rulings, but COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions have added a new layer of complexity that the courts are only beginning to uncover. Williamson, Clune & Stevens, a family law firm in Ithaca, Syracuse, Elmira and Auburn, NY, shares some information and counsel about this ongoing concern for many New York families.
Custody Issues and COVID-19
As part of the initial actions to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of COVID-19, New York courts were among the many businesses and institutions closed for a prolonged period of time. Under these closure orders, the Family Courts only addressed the most pressing needs that involved the immediate safety of a child or spouse. Other filings were delayed indefinitely, and families were encouraged to work out reasonable solutions for pending relational, support and custodial issues.
With the reopening of the courts on a limited basis, Family Courts have been inundated with new filings for issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and the strains it has placed on New York Families. Among these new filings, custody issues rank among the most prolific. Many are custodial concerns that were not deemed immediate needs during the closure, but have remained unresolved since. Judges are seeking guidance as to how to handle many of these cases, such as:
- One parent fearing another does not observe acceptable protocols for safety regarding the spread of the coronavirus
- One parent unnecessarily exposing a child or children to the coronavirus through activities or work responsibilities
- Travel restrictions that prevent custodial visitation arrangements to be met
- Other custodial arrangements are feared to endanger the child or heighten their risk for contracting the coronavirus
- Custodial arrangements that place undue hardship on one parent (for care of child, especially if sheltering at home with one parent)
- Support to the custodial parent is curtailed because the other parent suffered illness or job loss related to the coronavirus
These and other disagreements or hardships present real problems for families and judges alike in determining the proper course of action. Williamson, Clune & Stevens can assist families with resolving these issues when possible. When an agreement cannot be reached, we can represent either parent with the Family Court.
Williamson, Clune & Stevens, Family Law Attorneys in Upstate New York
New York families can expect the family courts to be overwhelmed with claimants seeking guidance or changes to existing agreements. This backlog will likely cause significant delays before any hearings or possible resolutions. Moreover, under the laws of New York, parents must negotiate both legal and physical custody matters. These involve the legal authority to make decisions for the child as well as where child spends most of his or her time.
Williamson, Clune & Stevens in Ithaca, child custody attorneys in Upstate New York, can help your family reach the best possible solution for custody issues that are affected by COVID-19 concerns and restrictions. While these may not be the best long-term solutions, we can help your family do what is best for the children in these troublesome times. Remember, any arrangements that can be reached and followed by parents outside the courtroom are typically better than a court-ordered arrangement.
Contact a family law attorney at Williamson, Clune & Stevens serving Ithaca, Syracuse, Cortland and all of Central New York today to discuss your custodial complaints or problems. We can help your family navigate the shoals of COVID-19 successfully.