child wearing covid maskThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing how Las Vegas, Nevada parents should handle child custody or visitation disputes during the COVID-19 pandemic. My previous article provided an overview of the topics to be discussed throughout this series. It also stressed the importance of discussing your custody matters with an experienced attorney when issues arise. Doing so will help ensure that you understand your legal rights and the options available to you for resolving disputes with your co-parent. In some situations, it may be necessary to initiate formal legal action to enforce your rights. When dealing with isolated incidents or temporary schedule changes related to COVID-19, however, parents who are willing to work together and be flexible may be able to avoid involving the Court altogether. In this article, I will discuss how parents may handle pandemic-related visitation disputes outside of the legal system. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly all aspects of our daily lives in one way or another. Schools are closed or operating on revised schedules. Some workplaces are closed, resulting in layoffs or people working from home. Essential workers who are still reporting to their jobs may have reduced options for childcare. Differing opinions on pandemic-related safety measures, such as the need to wear masks, social distance, or follow quarantine guidelines are the subject of heated debates. For parents who share custody of a child, it is not hard to see how these issues create a breeding ground for disagreements about visitation. Whether related to school, work, or childcare accommodations or spurred by COVID safety concerns, many parents have experienced the need to alter their visitation arrangements, leading to potential co-parent disputes. While it is important to follow court-ordered custody arrangements to the extent possible, being flexible during these unprecedented times can go a long way to resolving these temporary issues. Working together and understanding the needs of each parent and the child can lead to a mutually beneficial arrangement without the need to take legal action.

Consider the following example. Bob and Mary share custody of their 8-year-old twin daughters. Pursuant to their custody and visitation order, Mary has primary custody and Bob gets the girls on weekends. Because of the pandemic, Bob is currently laid off from his casino job and Mary is working from home. Their daughters’ school is requiring them to attend online classes via Zoom during the week. Mary asks Bob if he would be willing to temporarily modify their arrangement so that the girls can spend weekdays with him. He can help with school while Mary works. The new arrangement gives Bob more time with the kids while he is not working, provides the girls with adult supervision during school if needed, and gives Mary a chance to focus on work. As schedules return to normal, Bob and Mary can re-evaluate their plan together.

The benefits of working together are obvious. Depending upon the nature of the relationship between the parents, however, I understand that resolving disputes in a rational and flexible manner may not be possible. In such a situation, it is important to avoid engaging in self-help to enforce a visitation order. Doing so may escalate the disagreement and will not be viewed favorably by the court. It is important to discuss your rights with an attorney. If you need assistance with a custody or visitation dispute, contact my office today.