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Navigating Child Support and Custody During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Do’s and Don’ts

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many of us live our lives and has had a hand in affecting the way we do even the littlest things. From work-life to social life, so many of us have had to adjust to these changes as they happen. For divorced parents, navigating the pandemic brought its own unique set of challenges.

Many people lost jobs or had to adjust their spending habits, and mandated stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines meant that families could not get together as often as they would have liked. As the pandemic continues to affect all of us, divorced parents should take note of how they should handle their support and custody orders. Here are several do’s and don’ts for how to effectively navigate divorce issues amidst the pandemic.

Child Support

Do: Explore Your Options

One of the great tolls of the pandemic has been the impact on the job market, as many people were laid off due to shutdowns and budget cuts. For a divorced parent, this sudden change can be scary, especially if he or she is making child support payments in the midst of things.

If you have been laid off or have faced a substantial change in your income due to the pandemic (Iowa requires a change of at least 50%), you can seek a modification to your child support order, either in making payments or receiving payments. Seek this out early to avoid undue stress. While the process may take some time, starting the process early can save you a headache in the long run.

Don’t: Ignore Your Support Order

You should not assume that because you are no longer employed that you are no longer obligated to make your child support payments on time. While you may be facing difficult circumstances, your support order is still in effect. You should plan on continuing to make your child support payments while you seek a modification.

Do: Communicate Early and Often

Communication is key to a successful relationship, even with your ex-spouse. Keeping your ex informed of your situation and working out any necessary arrangements as early as possible can bring a great deal of relief to your stress.

Don’t: Delay the Process

As previously alluded to, do not delay seeking assistance or communicating your situation with your ex and with the court. While you may need time to process your situation, effectively communicating sooner rather than later starts the process and avoids many legal issues of waiting too long.

Do: Begin the Job Hunt

While job hunting is scary and has many unknowns attached to it, beginning to look for a new job after being laid off shows that you are committed to supporting your child as best as possible.

Child Custody

Do: Keep Communication Open with the Co-Parent

While you and your ex-spouse may not have the best personal relationship after your divorce, communicating your plans during the pandemic is a must. Keeping each other informed of any activities that may involve other people can be helpful to the other parent when he or she makes plans. Answer texts or emails promptly to avoid confusion.

Don’t: Forego Social Distancing Guidelines

It can be difficult and seemingly annoying to consistently follow all social distancing guidelines during the pandemic, but doing so is crucial. Avoid taking your child to places that may have larger gatherings or people without masks. The last thing you want is for you or your child to contract the virus during your parenting time.

Do: Stay Socially Connected

Social media has done wonders for the world throughout the pandemic in terms of keeping people connected. Despite the physical distance, many families have opted to use video chatting tools such as Zoom or Facebook Messenger to keep in touch. Use these tools to communicate with your child while away so you can continue to remain connected and improve your relationship.

Don’t: Be Unwilling to Adjust

Plans will undoubtedly change throughout the remainder of the pandemic. There may be times where a visitation schedule may have to change due to unforeseen circumstances. While frustrating, be willing to adjust your normal schedule to accommodate these changes. Show a spirit of cooperation and negotiation with your ex-spouse so that you can allow for any unforeseen changes to the schedule while maintaining your right to have parenting time with your child.

Child Custody Lawyers in Iowa

If you have questions about your custody arrangement in the midst of the pandemic or have lost your job and need help making child support payments, you should contact an attorney to help you understand your options.


Family Law Solutions of Iowa is dedicated to helping our clients achieve peace of mind while fighting for their rights. Contact us today at (515) 305-3474 or reach out online to schedule a consultation.

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