Custody Order Enforcement in a Coronavirus World
A family law court was impelled to hold an emergency custody order enforcement hearing in Orange County recently in order to determine the facts behind an alleged kidnapping. A woman had called police when her ex-husband failed to bring home their daughter at the expected hour. The girl’s father contended that their divorce decree entitled him to keep her for two weeks whenever she was out of school. Schools are closed, so he was taking full advantage of his rights. The girl’s mother argued that school—virtual school—was still in session. She wanted her daughter at home.
Custody Order Enforcement Issues
Custody order enforcement is one of many issues that have become difficult to manage as California deals with shuttered communities and new rules to daily living. In this particular instance, the court ruled in favor of the father and determined that the parents would have to switch off their daughter’s residence every two weeks for the duration of the school shutdown.
The truth is, stress levels have skyrocketed these days, making many divorced parents more demanding and unreasonable, putting their fears ahead of custody order compliance and the child’s best interest. To make matters worse, courts are operating with limited staff, and hearing custody order enforcement cases in emergency situations only.
So parents are having to navigate difficult questions with attorneys to guide them, but essentially no court supervision. When parents have different views about how to handle social distancing it can become a blood sport! Should a child fly to visit a parent who lives a long distance away? There are clearly arguments for both sides of the issue. Unfortunately, there may be a landslide of custody infractions and conflicts in the coming months, but few options for investigations, hearings, or solutions. Non-custodial parents are generally getting the brunt of the new normal—along with kids who do not bet to see a parent they love for extended periods of time and may not understand why.
Suggestions Moving Forward
There are no easy solutions. The most important thing is to shelter kids from conflicts as much as possible. When you are having heated discussions with your former spouse, do not let your children be a party to it. If you are feeling helpless in the battle with your ex, try to find other ways to interact with your children. By phone is the obvious first option, along with video connections like Zoom, Skype, or Facetime if you both have Internet access. This could be a good time to revive the art of letter writing, too. Whatever you do, keep the best interests of your child in the forefront. Try to be reasonable, and do what you can to show that your child is loved.
New custody order enforcement as well as many other questions arise every day in relation to divorce, custody, and other family law issues. At Beck Law P.C., we stand ready to assist. Do you live in Sonoma County, Mendocino County or Lake County? Call our Santa Rosa office today.