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Handling a Family Court Delay /Custody Battle during
Covid-19 Pandemic

What is the Coronavirus

  • The coronavirus is part of a group of viruses which cause a host of respiratory illnesses.  The common cold is a version of the coronavirus.  So, the word corona stands for any virus within a group or classification.  Other viruses like SARS.  According to the CDC website Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2).

  • Where did the virus come from anyway?
  • Well according to the CDC the virus began in Wuhan China.  Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. (CDC website).

Overview of the Court COOP plan.
The COOP plan from the court has been laid out.  It determined that only priority 1 business shall be allowed to go to court until March 27th. An evaluation shall be done during that time to see how court cases may continue.  Most cases are moved and rescheduled by the courts.

Statement from Judge Patrick L. Carroll III
Chief Court Administrator
March 12, 2020
The Judicial Branch today implemented various measures as a result of concern over the spread of the COVID-19/coronavirus and in recognition of the public health emergency declaration Governor Lamont issued.  It is also important to note, in the clearest terms possible, that the courts of the State of Connecticut are open and will remain open.  
These measures are:
 Under the terms and provisions of the Judicial Branch’s Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP), commencing Monday, March 16, 2020, and continuing through March 27, 2020, the courts will schedule and hear only those matters identified as “Priority 1 Business Functions.”  
The following matters are Priority 1 Business Functions: o Criminal arraignments and domestic violence arraignments;
 o Juvenile detention hearings;
o Family orders of relief from abuse;
 o Civil orders of relief from abuse
 o Civil protection orders
o Ex parte motions
 o Orders of temporary custody
o Orders to appear
 o Emergency ex parte order of temporary custody
 o Juvenile detention operations for detainees held for juvenile court
 o Termination of parental rights
 o Domestic violence victim notification
 o Civil and family capias mittimus execution and bond reviews
 With the exception of jury trials already in progress and criminal jury trials necessitated by the filing and granting of a speedy trial motion, all jury trials, civil and criminal, are suspended for the next 30 days.
Consistent with guidance offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Connecticut Department of Public Health, these measures are being taken to reduce the number of people entering our courthouses in an effort to mitigate the potential for spreading of the virus.
OK…. I Read This Now What Does It Mean?
For you in particular, this means that your case will not be heard in the near future.  Any cases scheduled would be marked OFF (off the calendar) by the Court.  This is the same as the court filing a continuance on its own.  The reschedules dates will have to be adjusted based on your time, time of the opposition and any attorneys involved.  If you have any scheduled meetings with family relations, then please call them and see if they will be moved also.
Parents should limit transfers in crowded public places.  Social distancing is being requested by the doctors of the U.S.  Social distancing is labeled as remaining six feet or two meters from one another.  It is important that you and your opposition use best practices when dealing with exchanges.  Wash the hands of the kids (carry baby wipes) when they come or go.  Explain to the other parent that you are not saying anything bad about them, but that you are being supportive of your child’s health.  Remind your children to wash often and try to not touch their faces a lot. 
For those whose visitation was in the community and your location is now closed.  The weather is improving, so parks are often an option. If you need to be indoors seek out public restaurants and sometimes even grocery stores have table for your to meet.  Malls are not a great location for social distance practicing.
Sick Children: When a child is sick and it is time for parenting swaps, it is often difficult to decide whether to send the child or not.  Should you keep a child at home if sick?  The answer to that question depends on the ailment of the child.  If the child has a simple cold, stomachache, headache or minor digestive issues; then parenting time should remain as scheduled.  The other parent can often handle these minor issues themselves.  Remember that you would want the other parent to treat you with the same respect.
The child who is sick with a fever, throwing up, diarrhea or possibly has coronavirus should not be transferred.  Phone the other parent and ensure that they know what is happening with your child.  Promise to keep them informed of progress of the illness.  If this is needed then the parent should take the child to the doctor as soon as possible.  This concept and plan is often supported by the court judges.  This can be difficult if a parent is known to fake illnesses. 
As for parents getting sick or getting the Covid-19…
It is my opinion that if the parent comes up sick with the virus, then the other parents should follow any isolation protocols which the government has established.  The isolation at the writing of this memo is the following.  Self-induced isolation should be followed for fourteen days.  If the person shows no signs of getting ill (sore throat, sudden fever, breathing difficulties) then they may leave isolation.  If the ill parent has been at home then the child should remain away from them until they have had three tests of negative for the virus.  This 3 testing is what has been put in place based on the CDC recommendations. The child should be able to skype, DUO and use other ways of being together without contact closer than six feet away.  This is hard to do, but necessary to control the spread of the virus.
What about the custody
Many of you are still in the midst of deciding custody with the person who is the other person.  I am working with the opposition in your case to settle your case and keep progress going on the matter.  In some cases this work is done with the attorney on the other side.  In other cases, this work is done with the opposition and doing a non-traditional mediation.  The courts’ restriction for cases make it impossible to handle any contempt matters.  Those matters will be dealt with when the courts return to the normal practice.  When you have issues which require assistance please text or email problems and I will assist when and where I am able. 
Please continue to keep your schedule as you have done for the last few months.  Unless you have an agreement to otherwise make changes; your kids lives should remain the same. 
Home Preparation
I am writing this part to advise you on home preparation.  You should be prepared to work from home, if available.  Many schools have already closed and many more are going to close.  When they will reopen is questionable.  So below is a list of items that general prepared people should have on hand.
Medication: if you can get medication in 90 day supplies then by all means get those.  If you are typically slow in renewal of the medications, then now is the time to get the renewal.  Make sure children’s medications are up to date and have asthma meds in both homes.  If you have trouble with this than call the doctors and they will order you double to medication to split.  Make sure that the children take the medications. 
Food:  Make sure that the food you have is not expired.  We all keep food past the expiration date.  We buy things which we intend to eat, but do not get around to it.  This is the good time to clean and restock.  Once you restock what should you use?  Make sure that you have non-perishable food you will actually eat.  Do not worry about the food that you believe will be good.  Rice and beans are great, but only if you are actually going to eat rice and beans every day.  Buy things that will have lots of good nutrients.  This is not the time to stock up on snack foods for the kiddos. 
Fruit: long lasting fruits and vegetables are great.  Make sure that you get canned, jar, or other items as needed for three weeks of 3 meals a day.
Canned:  Beans are a good source of protein and can be good, but only if you will eat them.  Canned fish, meats, chicken are all good opportunities to make meals and that have protein. 
Seeds, nuts, and other items of the like can be added to meals or as good long-term snacks.   Cheese, milk, eggs should all be a part of the amounts needed. Please remember that you should stock the things you will eat.
I am available to assist you in the coming days.  I will be following the same state recommendations for distancing.  I will no longer be shaking hands, giving hugs (which I am known to do).  I can be reached by phone at 860-785-6013 by text at the same number.  I can have video conferencing and mediation between the parties.  I will be limiting in person meetings for the foreseeable future, but I am in no way disappearing.
Be safe and God Bless
Tamarah Gay