For months of the pandemic, courts were closed, which left co-parents with difficult choices: would they have to mediate and resolve problems on their own? Would their solutions be considered legal by the court? And more importantly, would they be able to resolve disputes over issues that arise during the pandemic?
A recent New York Times article talked about divorced co-parents who found themselves engaging in legal “self-help,” or the use of self-created legal remedies. In one case, a woman decided that having her daughter switch households during the pandemic for visitation was too risky, so she decided to replace visitation with video calls with the father. The father later demanded that he get full physical visitation days to make up for the video calls, and the court agreed.
“They ruled that a generalized fear of the pandemic is not sufficient reason to violate or modify a court order,” the mother said. The problem is countless co-parents are now having to decide between abiding by court orders as written, or adapting them for pandemic conditions without guidance. For contentious parenting relationships, that might leave some people vulnerable to legal disputes.
For one couple, problems also arose where they need to come to an agreement about whether to send children to school when schools briefly reopened in the fall. One parent might feel that having their child in school would be an unnecessary risk, while the other parent might feel that in-person school is the only way for their child to get a suitable education.
Problems like these could no longer be resolved in court for months. However, there is another solution: mediation. Family law mediators can help parents resolve their disputes outside of court, crafting an agreement that benefits the child in a way both parents can support.
If you’re finding that the courts are too slow or unable to address the serious issues you’re facing right now with your child and co-parent, then speak with a family law attorney as soon as possible to mediate your issue.
Edgar & Dow is available every day to provide a free consultation regarding your family law matter.
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