What changes to child custody should occur during COVID-19 in Clearwater Florida?

Child custody in Florida is referred to as shared parenting and can be a devastating life-changing event for both children and parents.  After a divorce, an experienced lawyer will try to achieve the best possible outcome for all members of the family, with considerations to their emotional well-being regarding time-sharing and child support.

Time sharing.

The State of Florida requires couples to decide when and how the children will have time to spend with each parent individually. The degree of emotion tied to child custody disputes is enormous and the final resolution will impact parents’ future relationships with children and cause temporary disruptions to their:

  • living space(s),
  • daily routine,
  • emotional health,
  • education,
  • vacation schedules and
  • extracurricular activities.

A parental visitation schedule to be decided upon in advance, when shared custody is agreed upon and ordered by the court can give the family newfound structure.

COVID-19 social distancing impact.

The social distancing and shelter-in-place rules due to COVID-19 should not directly affect custody orders, and parents should continue to follow current arrangements, unless agreed upon alternative plans are made, or a judge changes a custody order.  Courts are making it clear that the failure to abide by existing custody orders during this time may result in contempt of court, although Florida has seen a case where a emergency room doctor temporarily lost custody of her daughter due to being on the frontlines and treating sick patients.  For divorced and separated parents, social distancing and staying healthy when children are going back and forth between two households can be difficult, and trust in another parent’s judgment becomes a valid concern.  Propose alternatives such as:

  • postponing in-person visits for a period of time allowing for make-up visits at a later date
  • scheduling daily phone calls and/or “virtual visits” using technology
  • having your ex come by in-person to say hello, but keep a safe distance
  • sending letters, postcards, and text messages.

If your ex has tested positive for COVID-19, he or she will be hospitalized or asked to self-quarantine, and visits will have to be postponed.

Emergency Custody Orders.

If your child’s other parent refuses to follow medical advice based on COVID-19 exposure, and you believe that your child’s health will be at risk by visiting the other parent, you should contact a local family law attorney for advice.  The Law Offices of Yeazell & Sweet in Clearwater  offers free consultation and you  may need an emergency custody order that they can prepare for a judge to sign to postpone, or limit visitation during the COVID19 pandemic.

The Law Offices of Yeazell & Sweet

1901 Ulmerton Road Suite 435
Clearwater, FL 33762
Main: 727-851-9555

Office: 727-480-6211



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