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Emergency Child Custody Hearings During Coronavirus

Posted by Joshua Wilson | Mar 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

With schools closing and events canceled, there is a lot of confusion for Missouri families sharing custody. Parents may have a lot of questions about child visitation and child custody in light of the COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic. What can parents do if they do not want to send their child to the other parent's house where the child may be at a greater risk of danger?

If you have any questions about child custody issues or emergency changes to child custody orders, contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm today by calling (816) 331-9968 or fill out our online contact form. We have a fully-equipped virtual office that can serve your family needs without putting your family at risk of harm. 

Courts Are Open for Emergency Orders 

In an earlier blog, we wrote about the Missouri Courts During COVID-19. The Missouri Supreme Court suspended almost all court activities but there are several exceptions. The courts of Missouri will remain open for certain situations, including: 

  • Domestic violence protection orders; 
  • Emergency child custody orders; 
  • Emergency guardianship orders; and
  • Proceedings directly related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Additionally, the presiding judge can determine how the hearings are to be conducted, which can include holding hearings by video conferencing, email, and teleconferencing. These technologies will limit in-person courtroom appearances. 

Emergency Child Custody Changes 

There are a lot of reasons why parents may want to make immediate changes to their custody and visitation plans. Concerns for parents sharing custody during the coronavirus outbreak may include problems with the other parent who:  

  • Lives in an area with a higher risk of infection; 
  • Lives with someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19;
  • Is not taking the isolation and quarantine restrictions seriously; 
  • Would expose the child to more large groups of people; 
  • Has indicated they may take the child out of state or out of the area; 
  • May not have the food and basic necessities to care for the child; or
  • Will not seek medical treatment for the child. 

If the other parent will not compromise or make changes to the custody plans in light of the outbreak, the parent may have to get the court to make a temporary modification or issue a decision in an emergency child custody dispute. A parent can seek an emergency protection order to protect the child when there is an immediate threat of harm or abuse. 

Be Aware of Violating Court Orders 

Instead of going to the courts or talking to a lawyer about your emergency needs, some people decide to take matters into their own hands. This can be a bad idea and only make matters worse. Violating a child custody order may result in contempt of court charges, which could include fines and possible arrest. 

Ignoring the child custody order or intentionally taking the child away from the legal custody of the other parent may result in criminal charges for interference with custody. Interference with child custody is a Class A misdemeanor but could be charged as a Class E felony if the child is taken out of state. In addition to criminal charges, possible jail time, and fines, interference with custody could impact your future custody and visitation rights for your child. 

If you have safety concerns for your child, you can seek an emergency court order. Emergency child custody hearings and issues concerning COVID-19 are open for court hearings during the temporary court suspension period from March 17, 2020, through April 3, 2020. 

Missouri Family Law Attorney With Virtual Office Capabilities

We understand that your family matters are very important and cannot always wait for the COVID-19 situation to go away. Our office is fully operational and our staff is safely working from the security of their homes. We can attend court hearings as allowed and have the technology to connect to you and the courts for any emergency hearings.

If you have an emergency child custody, guardianship, or protection order and are concerned about COVID-19, contact The Joshua Wilson Law Firm. We are a virtual capable law firm and we will remain open for business to serve the needs of the community. Contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm today by calling (816) 331-9968 or fill out our online form.

About the Author

Joshua Wilson

Divorce is complex and highly emotional. Everything is going to change, including your most important personal relationships, your finances, your daily routine, and -- of course -- your home life. This can be a stressful time, and the parties involved often are not thinking clearly. You need some...


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