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State supreme court rules on parenting agreements in light of the coronavirus

People around the globe are in uncharted waters when it comes to dealing with COVID-19. While the virus is least dangerous to children, many parents are, of course, worried about protecting their children from contracting it. This issue can lead to questions about how to address parental obligations at a time when many are working from home, practicing social distancing, or staying in self-quarantine.

The primary concern is the well being of the children and the parents, and any parent or child who appears to have contracted the virus (or has come into contact with someone who has) should seek medical help to confirm it. They should also isolate, so they do not spread the disease.

The high court rules

The Texas Supreme Court also issued the Second Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster. Along with addressing the official state of disaster, the order also made a point to cover parenting issues and custody. In part, it reads:

“This order applies to and clarifies possession schedules in Suits Affecting the Parent–Child Relationship. For purposes of determining a person’s right to possession of and access to a child under a court-ordered possession schedule, the original published school schedule shall control in all instances. Possession and access shall not be affected by the school’s closure that arises from an epidemic or pandemic, including what is commonly referred to as the COVID19 pandemic.”

“Nothing herein prevents parties from altering a possession schedule by agreement if allowed by their court order(s), or courts from modifying their orders.”

This order is in effect from March 13, 2020, to May 8, 2020. However, the Chief Justice could extend the order if necessary.

What does it mean?

This means that parents must continue to honor the custody agreement regardless of whether schools are open. Depending upon whether the courts remain open, the parents can still go through the court system to finalize the custody agreements and plans officially modified.

Those with questions or concerns should contact an experienced Board-certified Family Law expert attorney in Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County, Midland County, Ector County, and surrounding areas of Texas. These legal professionals can provide insights on custody and other family law issues as this pandemic takes its course.

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