WICOMICO CO., Md. – Child custody issues arise amid the pandemic as parents worry about the safety of their children.
For example, there are cases in New Jersey and Florida where families who share custody dispute this agreement. This happened when one parent works in healthcare and the other parent cites this as a risk to their child due to possible COVID-19 exposure.
Wicomico County Attorney Jamie Dykes says she hasn’t heard of specific cases in the county, but it is definitely possible in stressful and unfamiliar situations like this one. “Most lawyers, even practitioners who have been practicing for 50 years or more, have never seen what we are experiencing now. I have never heard of any courts that were closed this way. These are challenging times for jobs, for families. “
Salisbury attorney Erin Michael McCormack said, “The Maryland Chief Justice has issued guidelines indicating that any custody or visitation plans will remain in place during this period. However, the judge continued to urge parents to be flexible, noting that some changes to the current visiting schedules might be warranted. As a result, parents, who often don’t work well together, are at odds. “
“To complicate matters, the courts are not planning any hearings until June and if this is extended no one really knows. When parents disagree on a ladder diagram, all one can do is file a contempt and wait for the courts to reopen before a solution can be found. There may be a valid defense against withholding visits, but it will be on a case-by-case basis and we will not fully know until the courts are reopened. Overall, this is new territory not only for the courts, but also for parents. “
Experts say if someone is facing a custody issue they should turn to a lawyer. There is also legal assistance from organizations like Maryland Legal Aid or Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service if you cannot afford a lawyer.
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