COVID-19 and Child Custody Matters Series, Part 1

This is a difficult and uncertain time for families.  Many parents are wondering how the COVID-19 pandemic affects their parenting rights and responsibilities under their current Arizona child custody orders.  Because there are so many questions raised around this topic, the Arizona Supreme Court issued guidelines to assist families, attorneys, and courts in resolving parenting time issues posed by COVID-19.  These guidelines can be found here.

The guidelines suggest parents follow their current parenting plan as closely as possible in order to provide stability and consistency for children.  Any disputes that arise which must be decided by a court will be evaluated based upon the specific facts of a case and what is in the best interests of the child(ren), in accordance with these Guidelines.  The courts are also strongly encouraging parties to confer and attempt cooperation to resolve disputes outside of court where possible before seeking court intervention.  While courts remain open, operations have been impacted. Courts are employing various measures to reduce exposure to COVID-19.  Courts are directed to limit in person contact as much as possible.  Many in-person hearings are being switched to telephonic appearances or are being continued altogether. The court is generally prioritizing the most urgent and emergent matters.  Cooperating where possible keeps folks out of the courthouse reduces exposure to parties and their children.

In an ideal world, all families could shelter in place, work from home, and minimize exposure to themselves and their child(ren) during this pandemic.  Yet for many parents, this is not possible, either because they are essential workers or because they have other responsibilities.  For this reason, some families may choose to make adjustments to the current parenting plan in order to avoid exposing their child(ren).

Here at Flagstaff Law Group, we will be posting a series of articles that dig more deeply into the various questions and scenarios contemplated by the Guidelines and the family law issues posed by the pandemic.  However, if you would like to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted your parenting plan and what legal options you may have under the newly issued guidelines, contact family law attorney Ashley DeBoard, at 928-233-6800, to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Legal advice should take into account the specific facts of your situation.  You should seek professional legal counsel before acting upon any of the information contained in this article.