Amid COVID-19 shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, many parents have been left wondering if or how their child custody arrangements will be affected.
In New York, custody arrangements must still be followed, but it is recommended that parents be flexible and cooperative with one another when it comes to visitation in these unprecedented times. Our firm has assisted families in negotiating parenting plans and emergency custody modifications during court slowdowns.
When it comes to your own visitation schedule, you probably have two things in mind: you want to see your child and maintain contact, but you also want what is best for their health and safety. If it is agreed that your child will stay with their other parent for the time being, there are some effective ways to maintain contact with your child:
- Write letters. A handwritten message (or even a fun picture postcard) can be a very thoughtful and heartfelt way to show your child they are important to you and that you think of them often.
- Schedule daily phone calls and send texts. Making a daily schedule of verbal communication with your child can remind them that you are still there to listen and care for them. Adding spontaneous texts in-between is a pleasant surprise for your child as well. Also make sure to remind your child that you though you also in lockdown, your home remains a safe place for them with plenty of food and toys when it is possible for them to come.
- Video chat. When possible, you can video chat with your children so that you maintain your relationship even though you are in another place. They can use this opportunity to show you their toys, drawings, or anything else that they have been doing.
Recognizing Parent Alienation
On the other hand, it’s important to understand when your child’s other parent may be purposefully trying to keep your child away from you and using the pandemic with this in mind.
Jordan Trager, one of our family law attorneys, has nearly 25 years of legal experience and has significant experience recognizing circumstances of parental alienation, in which one parent attempts to destroy the relationship between a child and their other parent.
When lockdowns first began in New York, this was one of his first concerns for victims or potential victims of parent alienation. According to Jordan, parents have already contacted him regarding concerns of parent alienation during stay-at-home orders, including:
- Not facilitating phone or Skype calls between you and your child
- Not answering the phone or Skype call
- Monitoring the calls between you and your child
- Deliberately distracting your child from calls with video games, electronic devices, toys, or other means
Preventing Parent Alienation
With this in mind, there are some things that you can do if you suspect you are a victim of parent alienation. Primarily, your number one defense against parent alienation is to thoroughly document everything. This includes records of text messages, emails, and letters to the other parent, as well as getting domestic incident or police reports.
Ultimately, court-ordered child custody agreements prevail during this time, which means that parents are required to follow custody plans. If your child’s other parent is disobeying a custody order, our Long Island attorneys can help you enforce the order with legal action.
Protecting You and Your Family
As always, Wisselman, Harounian & Associates remains available 24/7 to help you through these unprecedented times. Through family court closures and slowdowns, our firm has been assisting families with parenting plans and custody modifications.
Whatever your family law needs, our team is here to work with you towards an effective and strategic legal solution.
Contact our Long Island family law firm at (516) 773-8300 to schedule your no-fee initial consultation and discuss your legal options.