Dealing with a worldwide medical pandemic and personally trying to stay alive and healthy is mentally changeling, but for parents who are divorced or have separate custody agreements and co- parent, it can be a disaster for the entire family. Hopefully, this Coronavirus Pandemic will be a short-lived life-threatening situation, but how the Co-parents cope with the problem could deeply impact their children’s emotional life.
In Texas, on March 13, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court issued an emergency order that divorced /single parents should go by the originally published school and visitation schedule in their current decree. Since the last life-threatening pandemic in the United State was the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, most divorce/ single parent agreements do not include a pandemic clause!
Do not be one of those parents who decides that they “are the decision maker” and drives away with the kids for an extended vacation to Grandma’s in Florida without telling the other parent. Or deciding that the family circle of trust does not include their Other Parent and refuses visitation or joint decision making. These hasty, irrational decisions may seem reasonable in this time of national panic but consider the legal ramifications of violating an order. Since all courts, in Texas, are now closed except for emergency litigation matters only, when the courts are fully operational again and the medical danger has passed, how will a violation of your current decree look to the Judge? Judges always look to the needs of the child versus the unreasonable expectations of the parent. There will be serious ramifications against the violating parent.
Let’s look at some ideas on how co-parenting during this pandemic season can work the best for all family members and by joint agreement will save your both money that would normally go to legal fees.
Just remember that as co-parents your children are most important. Your child has been told that they can’t see their grandparents because of their age and if infected by the coronavirus, may die. No school, no playing of sports, or playing with friends since they may be infected with a deadly virus and become very ill. Decide to cooperate as responsible co-parents to navigate the child to the new changes in their daily routines without a lot of stress and anxiety on the child. By keeping the child calm and showing “a united family circle” the child will know that Mom and Dad are there for him/her.
Some areas of agreement should be that the child will have regular email, phone calls, FaceTime, Zoom visits, and texting with the other parent. The child needs to know that both parents are safe and interested in their wellbeing. Regular visitations times must be made available for the child to see each parent. Remember the child’s core circle of trust are his/her parents and siblings.
Another very serious matter is the decision of what will happen to the child if one parent becomes ill and cannot care for the child. The joint decision must be made by both parents and must ultimately be in the best interest for the child.
Custody disputes and circumstances that have totally changed in the last month. Just remember, co-parent cooperation is the best choice. There is no doubt that judges will be happy to hear that parents have worked together to meet their child’s best interest, by taking steps to protect the child’s health and safety.
This is a time for mutual give and take from both parents. No one is always right nor always wrong. In this upside crazy pandemic world, jointly trying to navigate your family to a better place will have its own rewards.
If, however, one parent unilaterally refuses to make fair agreements for the children or violates your custody orders, avoid retaliation and follow your decree orders faithfully. This Pandemic will pass, and most Judges will not treat lightly intense misconduct when the courts reopen.
Mark A. Nacol
The Nacol Law Firm P.C.
Forty-two states, Washington, DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico have issued stay-at-home orders, encouraging isolation to curb the spread of the coronavirus. About 95% of America’s population (306 million people) are now under a mandatory form of lockdown. As lock down quarantines are going into effect all around the world, “Intimate Terrorism”, a new term used by experts for Domestic Violence, is flourishing!
People are now practicing more social isolation within their homes with their families. If there is a domestic abuser living in the home, with the sense of losing control and powerlessness over the pandemic, the victims are at a very serious risk of domestic violence. This abuse predator will use the Coronavirus outbreak as a reason to make leaving the home impossible for everyone. The family will be under the control of the abuser and with the children now out of school, abuse to all family members could be shared and witnessed by the children.
Many victims usually try to seek help from outside services when the abuser is at work or not at the home, but with the enforced Stay-at-home restrictions, many domestic violence victims are now constantly in contact with their abuser. Another situation is the fear of the victim in meeting someone who has been exposed or has the coronavirus when getting medical care for injury experienced during domestic violence abuse.
If you, a family member, or friend is experiencing a Domestic Violence Situation during this Stay-At- Home Quarantine, please call the following emergency numbers for help in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Area:
Need Help in Dallas County? Please contact “Dallas Domestic Violence Task Force”: https://dallascityhall.com/government/citycouncil/district13/dvtf/Pages/default.aspx
Need Help in Collin County? https://www.plano.gov/896/Helpful-Links-Resources
Need Help in Denton County? https://dentoncounty.gov/Departments/District-Attorney/Divisions/Victims-Assistance-Division.aspx
Need Help in Tarrant County? https://access.tarrantcounty.com/en/sheriff/operations-bureau/criminal-investigations/victim-assistance.html
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline Immediately at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Nacol Law Firm P.C.
Dallas, Texas 75231
The Nacol Law Firm P.C. is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for our clients, staff and the community we serve. We have been closely monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak according to the guidelines and recommendations of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
We want to assure all of our clients that The Nacol Law Firm P.C. is open and we are available to you for your needs. We want to share with you the actions we are taking to help protect our clients, staff and the community we serve.
Our staff has been trained to follow the public health authorities’ guidance regarding hygiene and personal travel, and we’ve reinforced our existing policy for staff who exhibit flu-like symptoms to stay home and to consult with a medical professional. We are also advising our visitors to make responsible decisions about meeting with us in person if they feel symptomatic.
Although our office is open during regular business hours and we are using extra precautions in regards to the virus, if you prefer to schedule a meeting or consultation by conference call, we are happy to accommodate that request. We encourage everyone to stay calm, practice good hygiene, and limit exposure to crowds and we will all get through this together.
Mark A. Nacol
Julian M. Nacol
Nacol Law Firm PC