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Five Signs of the COVID Custody Grab

Five Signs of the COVID Custody Grab

In uncertain times, people do unusual things. In family courts across the country, people are trying to deal with how to handle the pandemic when determining custody and parenting time. Attorneys and courts are ill-equipped, because a pandemic of this magnitude has not occurred in our lifetimes. For those in south Florida who are trying to resolve a family law matter, this can be an immensely stressful time. Fortunately, a dedicated Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer might be able to help make sense of your rights and guide you through keeping as much time as possible with your children. 

One particular problem we are noticing is parents using various arguments relating to COVID-19 to claim a right to sole custody. In these so-called COVID custody grabs, one parent may use the other parent’s job, profession, spouse’s profession, or even neighborhood as a reason to seek a change in parenting allocation. Here are five telltale signs of a COVID custody grab.

Are You a Healthcare or Essential Worker?

If you are a healthcare worker, first responder, or other essential worker who must be in harm’s way regularly, be watchful for any sign that your child’s other parent may be worried about the time you spend with kids. Questions about your exposure or subtle suggestions that perhaps the “kids should stay here for a while” might be a sign that your ex is seeking to petition for sole custody, due to your job. While there are arguments to be made for protecting the children, it is also not an automatic reason to seek full custody – certainly not on a permanent basis.

Are Your Children in Virtual Classrooms?

If you and your child’s other parent have decided (or been required) to place the child in a virtual school program, it may be that one parent is having a harder time juggling work responsibilities. It is becoming increasingly common for one parent to have an easier or more flexible job and to therefore argue that they should have the child all week.

Do You Have an Aged Member of the Family Residing With You?

If you have older adults living in your home, or if you are caring for an elderly or infirm individual, you might begin to hear questions from your child’s other parent suggesting that it would be best for your loved one if the children were not around to expose them to the virus. Again, while caution is worth noting, such situations do not call for an automatic change to a parenting plan.

Did You Test Positive for COVID-19 in the Past?

Obviously, if a person is actively positive for the virus, then they should certainly quarantine away from small children so as to avoid the spread of the virus. But many Floridians have caught the virus and recovered, many never experiencing symptoms. Consider the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s admonitions on this topic. If you appear to have previously had the virus but are no longer testing positive for the active virus, you are not a threat. Per the CDC, you are safe to be around others, including children:

  • After 10 days since onset of symptoms AND
  • After 24 hours with no fever (without using fever-reducers) AND
  • All of your other symptoms are improving

You are Served With Legal Papers Seeking Custody

Finally, if you have been served with paperwork that appears to seek sole custody of children, the paperwork may not explicitly list COVID-19. It may instead make general or vague comments about threats to safety or risk of harm to the child. This could be vague language that will quickly turn into allegations about not following precautions once in court.

Get Help Today

To fight back and protect your right to see your children, call or go online to speak with an experienced family law attorney from The Sejour-Gustave Law Firm PLLC to find out more about how our team may be able to guide you through the process and preserve your parenting time.

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