How Might Virtual Learning and Working from Home Affect Shared Parenting and Child Support?
Due to the COVID pandemic, working from home and virtual learning has now been in effect for many months and, in some areas, is still an everyday occurrence. In fact, some soothsayers are predicting that this change in the way we live is becoming the new norm. In many instances, schools and businesses are finding it financially beneficial to keep doors closed, and students and employees studying and working from home. For some, this change in venue is welcomed, but for many, especially those who depend on parenting plans and child support, there are and will continue to be possible legal consequences. Consider the following:
- A reduction in income from working fewer hours, which often accompanies a relocation to staying at home to work or even worse, the loss of a job altogether, can adversely affect both the parent giving child support and the parent receiving it. Going back to court to receive a modification in child support may become necessary. First, there is the legal expense, and then, in the case of the parent receiving support, the reduction of that support. Both parties suffer as no one wants to make less income, lose their job, or receive less monetary support in caring for minor children.
- Who will care for the minor children on a 24/7 basis? This continued care will often cause a parenting plan to need revision. This can be true even if a parent is working from home as some jobs require periods of time for, say, zoom call conferencing. How can a person conduct an important conference call with young children making noise in the background? Too, if the children are school age, there will be daily virtual studying to be done, and an adult needs to be continually available for help and encouragement for a child to stay on task. Most parenting plans do not address this concern on an on-going basis, and so again, a return to court for modification will likely be necessary. Hopefully, the parents can work out a satisfactory solution during mediation as Family courts are extremely backed up.
- Another legal hitch that may need addressing with a return to court for modification is the number of overnights. Shared parenting, or parental timesharing as it is usually referred to, tries to have minor children spend equal amounts of overnights with each parent. Arrangements adjudicated in the parenting order may no longer be workable depending on who will be caring full-time for the children and when. For example, if one parent must work outside the home, day-to-day care may fall more heavily with the stay-at-home parent. Having to get a child up extra early to drop him or her off just to accommodate an overnight isn’t fair to the child or parent who must now give daily care and student oversight.
Trying to reorganize the care and nurturing of minor children during these trying and possibly permanent times may take competent legal help to negotiate. If you live in Florida in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, or Hillsborough Counties or New York or Washington DC Family Law Attorney Grant Gisondo is ready to help. His office is located in Palm Beach Gardens, where he offers a free, initial, in-office consultation. You can call (361) 530-4568 to make an appointment between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Monday through Friday and, for new clients, on Saturdays between 8:30 AM and 1:00 PM.