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Getting Answers: Navigating co-parenting amid COVID-19

Posted at 10:21 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 00:25:28-04

Amid the new norm of the coronavirus, co-parents are asking how they should navigate custody agreements.

Tonight, KATC is Getting Answers from a family law attorney.

Monique Barras is a mother of twin girls.

Like many co-parents, she's navigating how to move forward with visitation during the coronavirus. Her daughters' dad lives in Texas.

"If you cross the state lines, it's a 14 day quarantine," Barras said. "We try to keep up on FaceTime, text, and any kind of electronic communication is great. Especially nice to see extended family it's just good because everything is so unknown right now."

Jonathan Jarrett is the President of the Lafayette Bar Association's Family Law section and a solo practitioner. He said judges are still expecting parents to follow their court orders.

"They have not been modified by any of the federal proclamations or Gubernatorial proclamations regarding COVID-19. None of those have said your custody judgments or custody agreements no longer apply."

Jarrett recommends parents communicate and cooperate, adding it creates a sense of security for children when co-parents work together.

"That means that if you have a concern about something that might be happening at the other parent's house, you could ask them. Hopefully the other parent would be honest with you," Jarrett said.

If co-parents do not have a custody agreement from a judge, Jarrett said consider amicably working out a deal with the other parent. Emergency ex parte custody judgments are taking place only in the event of an emergency that affects the safety of a child. While this is easier said than done, a parent could be held in contempt if they violate a judge's order.

"Part of what the law says on contempt is that you're not following the judges order, but you also have to not have a good reason for doing that," Jarrett said.

As for Barras, she said her girls understand they will see their dad soon and they're navigating day-by-day.

"If you can keep the same schedule, it's awesome because it's in the child's best interest," Barras said. "Now if you can't, I definitely recommend talking to the other parent to give extra time later on. You don't want to keep your child away from their other parent. Nobody wants to do that at this time."