Separated families must follow custody agreements during pandemic

Coronavirus

CAROLINA FOREST, S.C. (WBTW) — Under the Home or Work order, separated parents with custody agreements must exchange their child or children during the pandemic.

Right now, many families are working together to figure out the best interest of each child and how to keep all involved safe from the spread of COVID-19.

A Carolina Forest family tells News13’s Elisia Alonso they’re putting their worries and differences aside, following their custody agreement by exchanging their son, and taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus.

Christine Strother has been divorced from her ex-husband for six years, both sharing custody of their 15-year-old, Nathaniel. Nathaniel’s dad is an essential worker and Christine worries he could potentially be exposed.

“At this point, there is no verbal agreement as to my son staying with me,” Christine said. “That won’t happen. I tried and nope, it won’t happen. So I still have to comply.”

Custody exchanges are considered essential under the home or work order. Parents must follow family court orders, or face being in contempt of court.

“They are facing possible sanctions from the court such as community service, a fine, jail time, or a combination thereof,” Heather Moore , an attorney for Axelrod & Associates said.

Christine says she will never keep her son from seeing his dad.

“I don’t want to break a promise to [Nathaniel] that I made back when he was in third grade,” Christine said.

Right now Nathaniel alternates weeks at each house. When dropped off, Christine makes sure to sanitize his shoes, clothes, and makes sure he showers right away.

“He’s not even bringing a backpack back and forth from my house to his dad’s house, because I don’t want to deal with washing it every week,” Christine said.

The Axelrod & Associates Law Firm says parents need to put the needs of their children first.

“They need to feel comfortable and assured that everything is going to be okay and they need both parents to work together to accommodate that,” Moore said.

The law firm says right now most parents are making arrangements for a child to stay with one parent during the order, then will make up time with the other parent when it’s lifted.

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