Shared parenting and child custody plans were disrupted around the state by the forced closures during the coronavirus outbreak. Many services were considered non-essential and forced to close, but there were also concerns about infections spreading through daycare centers and similar facilities that were allowed to remain open.
Situations like this can be especially daunting for parents who require court approval to deviate from a child custody plan that is already in place. Under normal circumstances, a family court judge would need to make a finding that there should be changes in the existing custody arrangement, which requires assistance from an attorney.
Florida allowed child care centers to operate as essential services but may have created health risks
Florida’s government decided to suspend the operations of many services in the retail, tourism, and foodservice industries. This could put parents out of work and affect their ability to make child support payments. However, Governor DeSantis chose to leave daycare and child care centers open, as closing them would force even more parents out of work, including crucial healthcare workers who would be forced to stay home and watch their children instead of providing treatment. The CEO of the Early Child Learning Commission of Pinellas County also made a similar statement. She said that the services provided in this sector are essential because they allow parents to perform other needed jobs.
A faculty member of the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine was concerned that child care facilities choosing to remain open could create a situation where the coronavirus spreads rapidly. There were also concerns that large groups of children at these centers, who are often asymptomatic carriers, could return home at night and spread the virus to parents and grandparents, who are much more vulnerable especially at advanced ages. Healthcare experts had problems with diagnosing the situation, as there would be no easy way to tell if a child was infected, especially if they did not show any symptoms.
All of the centers that responded to the local news said that they are doing everything they can to remain clean, and including regularly sanitizing all surfaces. One facility in St. Petersburg claims that they are doing a full scrub of the entire building with pure alcohol at noon and again at night after all of the children have left. All children and employees who will remain in the facility for several hours are also having their temperatures checked. Anyone with fever symptoms needed a doctor’s note to return.
Others have decided it is better to close entirely rather than take any risks. It is estimated that approximately sixty percent of all daycare centers and after school programs in the Tampa metro area were not operating during the pandemic.
Family attorneys are available in your area
If you need legal assistance with family law issues such as child support and custody, there are local attorneys in St. Petersburg and Tampa who can help. Contact The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet for personalized information.