Schools reopening present parents with more challenging decisions than ever before as a result of COVID-19. In addition to the inherent complications of the virus, the consequences of these difficult decisions pose significant child custody and support implications. As workplaces reopen for business and employees are increasingly expected to return to their physical place of work, many schools are taking different approaches. Although some schools are returning to entirely in-person learning, most have some form of at-home curriculum. For some parents, this may create a series of interconnected challenges for their custody and support arrangements.
COVID and Modification of Child Support and Custody Schedule
Depending on the age of your child, you may need someone to supervise the child during the school day while you go to work. If you require a third party to assist with childcare so you can return to work, your child support order may be eligible for modification. However, if your child's other parent will continue to work from home, they may have grounds to modify the custody order to assist with the child's at-home schooling. A modification of the custody schedule that results in more physical time with one parent or the other may also be grounds to modify the support order.
You may also be inclined to seek alternative employment opportunities that allow you to work from home. This decision should never be made without first consulting a family law attorney. Even if you seek different employment in good faith, your support order is not necessarily modifiable, whether you pay or receive support. Moreover, if you choose a new job that ultimately requires travel or different in-person hours and requirements in the future, you may again find your custody order subject to modification, which could likewise implicate a significant adjustment to your support order.
COVID-19 created a host of difficult challenges for parents by itself. However, these immediate decisions are simply not the only ones that must be addressed when you have an active custody or support order. To ensure that you do not negatively impact your support benefit or liability as well as your custodial arrangement, you should discuss your particular situation with an attorney experienced in child custody and support matters, because the impact may extend beyond what you initially anticipated.