LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -Since the coronavirus brought stay-at-home orders and social distancing-- it's caused a variety of issues between divorced or separated parents who share custody of children.
For the most part, right now, courts are on hold and only considering emergency custody and protective orders. But COVID-19 has created a variety of issues for those who share custody of children. Family law attorney Randy Fuerst says one issue is parents concerned about taking their child to an ex who works in health care.
“A parent who is not a health care worker is afraid to send the child or the children to a health care worker parent who works in the health care industry. That’s a dilemma. We’re instructing them that they need to send the children, because no health care worker is going to purposely put their child in danger,” he said.
Another issue is people who must go to Texas to exchange children.
“Parents are supposed to be cooperating. So, for example, if you exchange in Beaumont or Orange, move the exchange to some place on the Louisiana line so we don’t have this quarantine problem because of the Texas roadblock. You have to cooperate with the other parent,” said Fuerst.
And Fuerst says some people are just taking advantage of the situation.
“Some people are just being mean and using COVID as an excuse to either not send their child or, more importantly, not return the child to the other parent after access, so we’re getting different scenarios with COVID that make life very difficult for the parents and the children,” said Fuerst.
Fuerst reminds people if they don’t follow a judge’s order, they could wind up being held in contempt, fined, have to pay attorney’s fees for both sides and even a change of custody depending on how unreasonable they’ve behaved. If a judge orders, Fuerst says law enforcement can accompany a parent picking up children.
Family law attorneys offer seven guidelines for parents who are sharing custody of children during the covid19 pandemic.