As if child custody wasn’t already complicated, parents have had to pivot in new ways over the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced many areas of life, including family law. Schools have taken different directions based on state and local mandates, which will continue to be in flux for the 2021-2022 school year. That means that parents must be prepared to pivot and consider new options for making things work when it comes to their child custody arrangements in NC, too.
This changing dynamic has caused many parents more stress and uncertainty heading into the school year, especially if things continue to evolve and change. In these situations, and especially if you’re not able to get along with the other parent, you need the help of an NC family law attorney to guide you through the process and assist with modifications to custody arrangements.
Virtual Schools: How Is Education Different Online vs. In Person?
One big way your child custody might be affected is if your child was getting picked up from school by the other parent, but they’re attending virtually this year. You might have that other parent at your home or need to arrange another pickup location. This situation is not always convenient for parents who work or have other children who are not part of the custody arrangement.
Parents might also have different perspectives on what is safe and what isn’t. One parent might assume that in-person school is better for the student because the child has better outcomes by attending school physically. If the other parent is concerned about the spread risk, this can lead to difficult conversations about what is best for the child and the rest of the family.
Different children will have different experiences online vs. in person. Where possible, work with the other parent to arrive at a solution that works best for everyone. You might need to update your child custody parenting plans if you must make alterations to schedules or pickup locations.
Private Schools vs. Public Schools
Many private schools retained in-person classes wherever possible during the pandemic, leading to a surge in their enrollment numbers. Not only do some students perform better in person, but for some families, attending school during the day is the only way they can manage their work schedule. In October 2020, only 5% of private schools were doing fully virtual learning.
If you’re thinking about enrolling your child in a private school, discuss the expense and schedule with the other parent. If you can’t work things out, you need the help of a family law attorney.
Does It Matter Where My Child Lives If They Attend School Online?
Per your child custody arrangement, residential custody guidelines should be clear. But when the child is attending school virtually, you might have to make adjustments. For example, if it’s the other parents “day” to pick up the child from school and you’re not able to host virtual school in your own home due to going to work, you will need to update your parenting arrangement to reflect who is responsible for virtual school and on what days.
If you have an out-of-state parent who wants more time because the child attends school virtually, it could mean heading back to court. You need to know all the possibilities and be prepared to work with your child custody lawyer if things get complicated due to COVID-19’s continuing impacts.
You’ll also want to see if you can get on the same page with the other parent by talking through a few issues, including:
- Who will pick the child up if they get sick at school
- What happens if there’s an outbreak and the child has to come home for virtual school for a week or longer
- How you will manage in-person or virtual after-school activities
Mask on or Mask Off?
Each school is determining what its policies are to minimize the spread or risk of COVID-19. Some are requiring students to wear masks all day. Others are using hybrid schedules to decrease in-person contact. Ensure that your child has access to masks if needed and that both parents are on the same page about when your child should wear a mask for other activities.
Do You Have More Questions? At McKnight Law, We’re Fluent in the Emotions of Divorce and Child Custody
To say the past year and a half has been unprecedented is an understatement. If you need help adapting your parenting plan or going back to court for modifications, you need the support of an experienced child custody lawyer. At McKnight Law, we’ll work with you whether you’re just starting the process of filing for divorce or whether you’re trying to figure out how to make child custody arrangements work in the ever-changing world of education.
Call (919) 413-7002 to schedule an appointment to sit down and talk with Family Law and Child Custody attorney John McKnight. If you need his help navigating through the complexities of divorce and child custody in the age of COVID-19, John will be involved in all aspects of your case. As a boutique law firm staffed by two experienced attorneys, you can rest assured that you will work with authentic, honest, and transparent professionals when you choose McKnight Law. A trusted name in the community, John has worked on political campaigns and served on the Boards of Directors for the Wake County Bar Association and the Wake County Women’s Center. His active volunteerism and willingness to serve have earned him recognition from people from all walks of life in Wake County, offering an advantage you might not receive from other firms that don’t have the same community presence.
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