Dealing with COVID-related issues is difficult enough when families are intact. Separated families with custody agreements pose an entirely complicated dilemma. Moreover, with the holidays approaching, how you do deal with child custody issues during holiday celebrations with COVID-19 looming over everything?
Williamson, Clune & Stevens, your community-focused family law firm in Ithaca, Syracuse, Elmira and Binghamton, knows how hard it is to make a decision that will satisfy everyone’s needs and wishes. We can provide sound advice and counsel to our clients and others who are facing these tough decisions.
How Will COVID-19 Affect the Holidays?
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting upheaval to our society has left nothing intact. Families, routines, schedules, education, careers and now even our favorite holiday traditions are feeling the impact. Some of the possible situations that families with child custody agreements may face include:
- Travel that crosses state lines may be subject to other state or local restrictions.
- Traditional celebrations with family may cause undue exposure to or spread of the coronavirus.
- One side of the family may not observe safety precautions during their celebration, placing a child and the entire family at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
- Schedules that are already disrupted may conflict even worse when trying to fit in holiday celebrations with both parents.
- Custodial parents may feel pressure to “control” the children’s holiday activities, including those with the other parent, causing heightened tensions within the family.
- Modified holiday celebrations can be a real downer when compared to previous years. Minimizing or downplaying these emotions can make things worse instead of better for your child.
- Work schedules or restrictions may cause a parent to miss some or all of the family’s holiday gatherings.
- Concerns about grandparents who may have compromised immune systems may cause significant changes to celebrations, including video-connected parties or even cancellations. Disagreements about these plans can cause increased tension within the family, between parents and with the children.
The possible list of complications can go on and on. Williamson, Clune & Stevens, divorce lawyers in Ithaca and Syracuse, want to work with families to hammer out workable solutions that provide the best possible outcomes for your entire family. One of our attorneys can provide calm, reasoned and effective mediation when solutions are hard to find.
Making the Best of the Holidays During COVID with Child Custody Agreements
First and foremost, you must remember that child custody agreements in New York, and in every other state, are legally binding. You cannot simply choose to stop following the terms of the agreement on a whim, or for what you believe is a good reason. Even shelter-in-place orders do not supersede court-ordered child visitation agreements. Breaking the agreement for any reason could result in losing your visitation rights, custodial rights or other complications that will not help your family.
If you believe a holiday visitation or celebration could place your child and your family at a heightened risk for COVID-19, you should communicate this fact to the other parent and/or your attorney. Offer some safer options and attempt to be as flexible and compassionate as possible. Always try to set emotion aside and as parents, choose what is best for your children and your family as a whole.
Communications in written or electronic form are best to establish a record of compliance and attempted negotiation. One of our attorneys at Williamson, Clune & Stevens can provide valuable suggestions and counsel during this process.
If you need legal assistance to modify a child custody or visitation agreement to reflect new choices that better keep your family safe, choose one of the talented and experienced divorce lawyers in Ithaca, Elmira, Binghamton and Syracuse from Williamson, Clune & Stevens. We are here to serve you safely and professionally when family needs arise. Call or message us online today.