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Child Custody and Visitation During COVID-19

Child Visitation in North Carolina  CHILD CUSTODY DURING COVID-19

The Coronavirus and COVID-19 changes how we live day-to-day.   

That involves more than just grocery shopping, doctor visits, and going to work.  

Parents of children subject to a Child Custody Order or other negotiated Consent Orders are working through school shutdowns, social distancing, and lack of work-related-childcare. 

Well-intended, historically sound methods and terms of visitation are being tested during the Coronavirus outbreak – Bill Powers, Charlotte Family Law Attorney  

Goals of Parenting Plans and Child Custody  

The “polar star” in North Carolina Family Court, relative to child custody, visitation, and support issues is the Best Interest of a minor child or children.   

Child Custody requires stability and consistency.   

Reasonable minds may differ in determining what indeed is in the best interests of the child.   

Indeed, the fact is a fair number of people both in North Carolina and nationwide do not agree with the “best” method to deal with the Coronavirus.  

One must ensure the best interests of children and follow directives of the Governor as well as the advice of healthcare professionals – Bill Powers 

Families should work together and proceed reasonably in enabling the purposes and intent of Child Custody Orders and parenting agreements.   

If consensus cannot be found, the NC Custody Mediation Program may a viable resource to help resolve disputes.  

Chapter 50B – Protective Orders During COVID-19 

Custody Orders pursuant to an “DVPO” or “Domestic Violence Protective Order” may add a level of complexity to an already complicated family law legal issue.  

If you have a legal question regarding a 50B Order or other child custody issue, our Charlotte family law attorneys recommend you consult with an attorney. 

Call your attorney before proceeding forward.  If you don’t have a lawyer, retain legal counsel immediately.    

Lawyers and law offices are deemed “essential professional services” and are imperative to the administration of justice in NC.      

Many, if not most, divorce lawyers in Charlotte remain open for business and/or legal consultation even with Mecklenburg County courts largely closed.   

Our office is open and helping people with their family law questions – – Bill Powers   

Given safety concerns, we are “meeting” clients via secure video conferencing, telephone appointments, and other remote-access formats.   

Violation of a valid 50B Order is a Class A1 Misdemeanor in North Carolina, subjecting the offender (the Defendant) to up to 150 days in jail. 

Failing to comport with any Court Order relative to child custody, child support, or visitation may also result in sanctions by the Court for contempt proceedings.   

Does the Stay at Home Order affect Visitation and Child Custody?   

Non-essential travel in North Carolina is precluded by Governor Roy Cooper’s “Stay at Home Order” as issued on March 27, 2020.   

Travel for child custody and visitation is authorized under the Order Section 1 – Stay at Home, 3(viii) Place of Residence:  

To return to or return travel between one’s place or places of residence for purposes including, but not limited to, child custody or visitation arrangements – NC Stay at Home Order  

Mothers and Fathers should continue to comply with all Custody Orders and Parenting Plans while they remain in legal effect, unless directed and/or Ordered by Judicial Order, other executive order, or supplemental Governor Orders. 

Parties, as directed in the statewide Stay at Home Order, must also comply with any greater restrictions as set forth in local orders: 

  1. Mecklenburg County Stay at Home Order 
  2. Stay at Home Information for Union County NC 
  3. Iredell County COVID-19 Information 
  4. Gaston County NC Stay at Home Order     

Travel between states for custody and visitation may be subject to restrictions.  Before traveling to and from North Carolina, parents should research travel restrictions.   

Custody Rights and COVID-19 Preventative Measures  

Parties with visitation rights, custody rights, and parents should take special care to stay informed of and comply with recommendations regarding caring for children made by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention or “CDC.”  

Do not rely on local or national media coverage in decision-making relative to child custody and care protocols.  NC Family Court Judges will likely default to scientifically based, official CDC protocols, not what the ‘talking heads’ on TV may opine – Bill Powers, Charlotte Divorce Lawyer  

Denial of Parenting Time or Custody   

In-and-of-itself, the Coronavirus and possible contagion of the novel COVID-19 virus likely is NOT a legally viable reason to deny parenting time and/or visitation.   

Unless deemed otherwise by a Family Court Judge, parents deemed “fit” to care for and make decisions in the best interests of their child or children while those children are in their care.  

Day-to-day care and decision making authority must comply with federal, state, and local health directives including hygienic health measures, social distancing, and travel.   

Charlotte lawyers who handle Child Custody and Visitation  

If you live in Charlotte-Mecklenburg have legal questions regarding a family law legal issue, we strongly recommend you consult with an attorney.  

Each case, like constitutes a family-unit is different and unique.   

Do not rely on gut instincts or what well-meaning friends and family may say. 

Retain legal counsel before proceeding forward.   

The Charlotte-based Powers Law Firm PA may be able to help.  

Prior to speaking with a family law attorney at our firm we will conduct a “conflicts check.”   

Consultation fees DO APPLY for all legal consultations regarding separation, divorce, custody, visitation, et al 

 

 

 

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