How Has COVID-19 Impacted Child Custody In Ohio?

Judge deciding on child custody case
November 11, 2021

Any child custody case can become an emotional minefield. Add in the stress, rapid change of circumstances, and potential financial problems that so many have experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the situation could become downright contentious. This can especially be true if you were involved in custody proceedings that were impacted by court restrictions due to newly imposed health regulations. Taking time to talk to a family lawyer can help you to know how best to proceed.

What COVID-19 Hasn’t Changed

If your child custody case had already been decided, those court declarations still stand. Right now, your child needs your love, attention, and support more than ever before. The semblance of normality that an established visitation schedule brings is vital to your child’s wellbeing. And though it can be harder than it previously was to juggle life’s responsibilities and be a present parent, that duty hasn’t changed in the court’s eyes. Visitation arrangements and other custody stipulations should be held to, even if parents have differing views on how to keep their child safe during times of illness. 

Legal and physical custody come into play here, from medical care to schooling situations; both can be impacted during uncertain times. While it can be hard to reconcile opinions on the pandemic as a whole, both parents want the best for their child. This is just one instance where collaborative divorce handled by a divorce lawyer can be a serious benefit to couples with children, since this type of divorce and resulting child custody arrangements focus on problem-solving and troubleshooting. The aim is always to achieve what’s best for your child. In the end, your child’s ability to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents is vital and can help them to get through what is a very stressful time for them too.

COVID’s Impact on Child Custody Litigation in Ohio

As has happened in other states during the pandemic, Ohio courts have largely been closed over the past year and a half, putting a hold on in-person proceedings. Some hearings may have been cancelled, others postponed, and in some areas virtual hearings have been the mainstay during this time of restricted operation. Regardless, Ohio judges have allowed for continued filing of new custody cases along with modification requests for any existing custody orders. 

For so many reasons, this unusual situation could have led to delays in your custody case. All that said, courts will still be using the same guidelines to determine the best custodial arrangements for your child. So while it’s easy to allow tempers to flare during stressful times, remember that your words and actions are meaningful. Providing a stable, loving, and nurturing environment for your child is still vital and is something that the court will be looking for, among other more practical factors.

Since the coronavirus outbreak may have significantly altered your or your ex-spouse’s day-to-day life, it’s possible that the court may consider certain factors more than they would have previously. For example, if your child’s schooling is taking place online, they will likely need assistance along with access to various resources to complete assignments. If school is being held in-person, the judge will want to be sure that your child can be taken to and picked up from school. And if your young child will be home for long periods of time due to online learning or daycare facility closures, then adult supervision is definitely necessary for their safety. It could be possible that one parent’s circumstances have changed to the point that they cannot provide the same level of care that they could previously.

If arrangements are already in place and you feel that they should be changed due to the effects of situations brought about because of COVID-19, you will need to petition the court for a modification. However, unless something significant has changed in either parent’s life that affects a child’s welfare––and only if that can be materially proven to a judge––it’s not likely that changes to the custody arrangement are possible. 

Regardless of the situation, having paperwork in order and providing all necessary information from the outset is one way to keep your case moving forward without unnecessary delays. This is especially true if you want to petition the court regarding a change in an existing child custody order. Working with an experienced family lawyer can ensure that nothing is overlooked.

Emergency Custody Litigation

Due to the increased stress surrounding the pandemic, circumstances in a parent’s home could escalate to the point that a child could be in danger or isn’t able to receive the care they need and deserve. The situation may feel like an emergency, but the term “emergency” isn’t subjective––you’ll want to speak with a seasoned family lawyer to know if your or your ex-partner’s situation qualifies and what the next step might be. 

If domestic violence, abuse, or repeated and direct exposure to COVID-19 are a concern, don’t hesitate to contact a child custody attorney. Any deviation from established custody plans requires court approval and a family lawyer can let you know what options are available and can get in touch with the courts on your behalf.

Family, Divorce, and Child Custody Lawyers in Cleveland Ohio

Court closures and times of restricted public access––like what we’ve experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic––can be hard for families involved in custody cases. It can be tricky to get in touch with professionals and linked up with needed resources. At the Law Offices Of Cara L. Santosuosso, LLC, we understand. We’re here to guide you through the ever-changing legal scenarios that the pandemic has thrust on us all. We also know the value of communication and collaboration and want only the best for you and your family. Get in touch today to learn how we can help.