In the last few weeks, COVID-19 has become a primary worry for people around the world. And Gov. Abbott announced a State of Disaster in Texas to curb the virus’ spread by closing down businesses and schools.
With schools closed for the next few weeks, parents are left wondering how to manage their kids at home. This can be even more stressful – and confusing – for divorced parents.
However, the Texas Supreme Court recently established an emergency order addressing this concern.
Emergency order: Proceed as usual with custody orders
As Texas families start practicing self-isolation and staying home, many divorced parents have the same question: how does this situation impact their child custody schedule?
The Supreme Court issued an order clarifying that divorced parents should follow the original school schedule in their custody agreement. Therefore, even though Gov. Abbott closed schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents should still approach their custody situation and custody transfers as if school was in session.
The order does not prevent parents from modifying their custody agreement and possession schedule. However, a modification is often possible only if the agreement allows modification and both parents agree to the change.
This emergency order will be in effect from March 13, 2020, to May 8, 2020.
So, what do parents need to do?
This situation is uncharted territory. And proceeding as usual with the custody arrangement might seem strange. However, it is generally in the best interests of the child to maintain contact with both parents. It reinforces stability and safety in this stressful time.
To continue following the usual custody schedule, it might help if parents:
- Contact their co-parent and create a strategy to transfer custody safely;
- Establish temporary rules for parenting time with children home from school; and
- Keep each other informed through consistent communication during this time.
All families should take extra precautions to protect their children’s health. It may require additional collaboration, but co-parents can work together to get their family through this.