In February and March of 2020, states started imposing social distancing rules, and issuing shelter-in-place orders. These orders were supposed to last a couple of weeks, and many people chose to temporarily relocate to be with their families, or fled the cities for the suburbs because the virus was ravaging one part of the state but not another.
Those “couple” of weeks became a couple more. Then they became a month, and then months, seasons, and (almost) a year. And now, that temporary relocation has become semi – or fully – permanent. Prior to the beginning of 2020, if people could not agree, then relocations were addressed through the courts; you had to petition the court if your upcoming move would affect your child custody order. You needed to show how modifying your child custody order or agreement was in the best interests of your child.
Things are vastly different now because of the pandemic. If your temporary living situation has become permanent – by choice or by necessity – you may face legal complications later.
Is your new residence making the custody schedule seem impossible to follow?
Parents – especially essential workers – are trying to keep their kids safe while still spending quality time with them and also following the agreed-upon court ordered custody schedules. While some couples may have been more flexible when the pandemic started, having virtual dinners or remote parenting time, tempers are beginning to fray. The ex-spouse who was so accommodating last March and even throughout 2020 may now be threatening legal action with school decisions for the 2020-2021 school year on the horizon, and he or she could be right: unless the custody plan has been legally modified, you could be in violation of your order.
If your ex is flouting the custody order because of coronavirus, you have legal options available to you.
Relocation considerations for couples seeking divorce
Parents are not the only ones affected by relocation. Section 230 of the New York Domestic Relations Law outlines the laws regarding residency. If one or both parties move out of state for any amount of time, it could create jurisdictional issues when it comes time to divorce. Residency issues are challenging enough even without a global pandemic, so you should contact us as soon as possible to see how a temporary or permanent relocation may impact residence requirements to proceed with a divorce.
Relocation during or after a divorce can present certain challenges, especially when you are a co-parent. The NYC child custody attorneys at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP can help you navigate a divorce during these difficult times. To schedule a consultation with an experienced lawyer, please call us at (212) 466-6015, or reach out to us through our contact form today. We maintain offices on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, in Westchester, and in Bergen County, NJ.