Since the coronavirus outbreak began in Pennsylvania, we have received many phone calls and emails from clients who have custody orders or are in the midst of custody litigation. Like the officials navigating the effects of the outbreak on a daily basis, this is uncharted territory for custody litigators. Questions have arisen when the other party or a member of their household is a healthcare worker or works in an essential job, when the other party is allowing playdates or continues to let third parties come into their home with the child and what to do if one of the parties tests positive for or shows symptoms of COVID-19.
Thankfully, we have received some guidance from the Family Court Judges of Bucks County, as President Judge Wallace H. Bateman, Jr. entered an emergency order on April 8, 2020 directly addressing issues related to the virus. The order directs that all previously entered custody orders shall remain in effect unless modified by the court or by agreement of the parties. Further, it supplemented provisions of all current custody orders as follows:
“All parties to such Orders shall (a) adhere to CDC recommended protocols for COVID-19 (such as washing hands before touching a child, cleaning surfaces the child may contact with Lysol or other appropriate disinfectant, social distancing, etc.); (b) practice social isolation in their homes; and (c) refrain from taking any child to a public place.”
The order further included provisions on what parties should do if they or a member of their household tests positive for Covid-19 or is showing symptoms of the virus or another respiratory infection.
One thing is certain- custody litigants should refrain from using this emergency to their advantage. This is the time to demonstrate to the court that you can successfully co-parent or are the parent most willing to co-parent with the other party by trying to work through these unprecedented issues.
As we know this cannot always be accomplished, if you need advice or assistance from an experienced custody lawyer in bucks county during this time, call us at 215-340-2207 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. While our staff and attorneys are working remotely due to the government mandate, we are fully operational and continue to work with our clients daily to help with their family law legal issues.