Based on an article in the NY Times New Battle for Those on Coronavirus Front Lines: Child Custody By Megan Twohey
All across the county parents who are no longer together are worried about their children making the switch from one household to another for visitation. Normally, most families and children are used to this but in the current Covid 19 environment, parents are worried that their children might contract the virus by being exposed at the other parent’s house. In the case of front-line medical, police, EMS or firefighters, the worry is even more real. These are all real worries.
The Texas Supreme Court has made several rulings since the outbreak began – all of which say that Covid 19 restrictions should not allow custodial parents to refuse visitation to the non-custodial parents. Even with these rulings, parents are calling with the same question. Do I have to allow the child(ren) to go to the other parent’s house? I’m worried about whether the other parent will be as vigilant about washing of hands, distancing, etc. What if my ex has a new partner, and is he/she going to infect my child and possibly me?
The New York Times article talks about a case in New Jersey where a physician (mom) was not allowed to see her children when her ex got an order granting him sole temporary custody of the children. Susan Myres, President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said, “We can’t make those people have to sacrifice more, but how do we do that custody safely?”
Every state has its own guidance, but a cookie cutter solution is not fitting the bill for every family. And courts in Texas are only accepting hearings in the case of emergencies. For family law, almost everything is an emergency. Every courtroom is making up their own rules for what cases they will see, what is an emergency, and how they conduct the hearing.