The Impact of COVID-19 on Custody Orders
COVID-19 has impacted everyone and every aspect of life including child custody. From self-quarantine, shelter-in-place orders and the closure of many places of employment. It has also placed many challenges on parenting, particularly when co-parenting with someone in another household. In many of these cases co-parenting was already tough, but the pressure of the pandemic has put many people at their breaking point. In some cases, the fear and tension may result in one party not following a custody order.
Like everything else during this pandemic there is a lot of misinformation about custody laws. For example, some people may claim that “the stay at home order voids our custody order” or “the courts are completely closed and there is no recourse for not following the court order.” Finally, there is the question of who is entitled to get the stimulus money for the child. Let’s set the record straight.
While every stay at home or shelter-in-place order is different, none of them void any child custody orders. The question then becomes must the custody order be followed during a stay at home order. The quick answer is, in most cases, yes! In fact, if you have a custody order in place then the same legal standards and remedies apply as if there was no pandemic.
Most state have closed or limited the operation of nonessential businesses. Courts in the Philadelphia area will largely remain closed until June 1. However, courts are still hearing emergency cases and are still accepting filings by mail or by drop boxes outside of the courthouse.
COVID-19 has also had a financial impact on many families. To combat the financial impact a stimulus package was recently passed providing funds directly to each taxpayer. There is also a provision to provide and extra $500 per child under a certain age. The government is using tax filings to determine who gets the money. In many cases this poses no issue, but if you have a court order which alternates years to claim the children on your taxes you want to consult with a family lawyer to learn about your options.
An experienced family lawyer can help you determine your best options during this time and help you navigate the court system.
LaMonaca Law is a family law firm that can help you exercise your custodial rights during this pandemic. Call LaMonaca Law at 610-892-3877 to schedule a consultation