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NEED TO KNOW: Handling child custody, visitation during COVID-19 pandemic

The Texas Supreme Court has issued an emergency declaration addressing the issue of child custody and visitation while stay-at-home orders are in effect.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The stay-at-home orders issued in response to the spread of coronavirus have disrupted so many aspects of our lives. People are working from home, kids are schooling online, and many parents are concerned about how these orders will affect child custody and visitation orders.

The Texas Supreme Court issued an emergency order on March 24th, stating "Possession of and access to a child shall not be affected by any shelter-inplace order or other order restricting movement issued by a governmental entity that arises from an epidemic or pandemic, including what is commonly referred to as the COVID-19 pandemic." (click here to read full text of order)

However, family law attorney Kelly Koch says visitation orders are negotiable, so long as parents agree to any changes that are made. "If the parties have a mutual agreement, they can vary from the stated court-ordered schedule. In fact," adds Koch, "it's not a variance from the court order, because the order itself says 'in absence of mutual agreement' follow this plan."

Koch recommends keeping a written record of any discussion and/or changes made to the visitation orders.

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