Child Custody and Visitation During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards’ stay-at-home order does not directly affect custody arrangements; therefore, parties should continue to follow their current custody agreement as best as possible. Courts are not clear at this time as to the outcome of various custody issues. Child psychologists have long stated that the children’s current routine is important in maintaining stability, which is why keeping up with the current custody arrangement is ideal. Ultimately, Louisiana law provides that the best interest of the child is of utmost importance in determining custody agreements.
The most efficient strategy during this time is to communicate with the other party to discuss what can be done to limit exposure to yourself and your family. You and the other party may consider issues such as if one of you is an essential worker, if you have to care for an elderly person, or if you have been in contact with someone who is sick. If one of these situations exists, you and the other party may need to agree to an alternative plan until the status of COVID-19 is clearer, including the possibility of giving make-up time to the other party after the stay-at-home order is lifted.
If you strongly believe that a decision that you are making in regards to your child and family’s health and safety are in the best interests of the child but conflicts with the current custody arrangement, it is unclear as to how the court will react to your decision. With this being said, the health and safety of your child and family is the most important aspect during this uncertain time. Again, there are no set rules or orders in regards to custody issues and the courts will use their discretion to remedy the situation accordingly.
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