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Custody & Parenting Time COVID-19 Repercussions during Back to School

By Jerry D'Aniello on September 18, 2020


Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic we have had to adapt and change in many ways. With businesses and schools operating in altered capacities, there have been significant changes in the daily norm; the field of family law is no different as we find ourselves having to adapt and modify to follow the changing times. In some cases, child custody arrangements have had to be reevaluated and altered in the best interest of the children. Parents have had to navigate where children can go for parenting time and to whom they are exposed.

The social and economic impact across our country have been felt at home by many families.  Working from home while children learn remotely has posed unique challenges for parents who had to adapt to their children learning from home. Now as offices and schools begin to re-open, there is a new schedule that parents must be mindful of.

Parents must now learn to balance the traditional needs to raise a family with the ever-changing schedules from work and school and a need to establish and maintain new norms for our children. Many districts are handling back to school differently; some are opening at modified capacities, others are continuing to remain remote, and some are hybrids of low capacity and remote learning. Dealing with home schooling is a full-time job. Parenting time schedules may need to be modified to accommodate school schedules. Built in flexibility is also desirable to prepare for school changes.

There is an ever-changing “new normal” that parents are being forced to adapt to, and these scheduling demands are proving to be exceptionally straining on parents who already had complex custody arrangements.

For many who are divorced or separated, this new disruption is causing a logistical nightmare in navigating custody and parenting time schedules.  

Courts are now faced with difficult decisions without the benefit of similar precedent. In New Jersey, a party seeking to modify the custody arrangement must meet the high burden of showing a substantial change in circumstances and that the arrangement is not in the best interests of a child.  Under New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 9:2-4(c)), the several mandatory factors courts must consider in weighing the best interests of a child include: 

  • The parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child; 
  • The needs of the child; 
  • The stability of the home environment offered; 
  • The quality and continuity of the child's education;
  • The fitness of the parents; 
  • The geographical proximity of the parents' homes; and 
  • The parents' employment responsibilities. 

Any one of the above factors above may be applicable to your unique circumstances as we adapt to our new schedules. If your custody or parenting time schedules have been affected or if you need to modify your custody or parenting time schedule, it is important to consult with a skilled family law attorney to help navigate through these difficult times. 

Jerry S. D’Aniello devotes his practice exclusively to all aspects of divorce and family law. Mr. D’Aniello, a Past President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers – NJ Ch., is also certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney. He provides his clients with strong, strategic legal advice and has proven to be a formidable adversary both in and out of the courtroom. Divorce and family law cover the most valuable aspects of your life, Jerry ensures that each of his clients receive the strong, legal representation needed to attain favorable results.

If you have questions regarding a Divorce or Family Law matter, contact Jerry S. D’Aniello for a consultation today. Call (908) 927-0200 or email jdaniello@snydersarno.com. Snyder Sarno D'Aniello Maceri & da Costa LLC is currently accepting new clients and our office has fully adapted to handle all types of family law matters respecting social distancing, office sanitizing and capable of addressing many matters remotely by virtual connectivity including mediations and arbitrations.

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