Your Guide to Parenting Plan Modifications During COVID-19


Responding to the Ramifications of the Coronavirus

This year will long be remembered for the coronavirus and the resulting challenges it inflicted against families worldwide. While medical professionals are beginning to administer vaccines, the coronavirus, and its effects on families, are going to remain present for a while longer.

If the pandemic has caused a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that makes your original child support and child custody Judgment unsustainable, our lawyers can help you attempt to modify them in a manner that benefits you and your family.

Agreeable Modifications

If you feel as though your current parenting plan is unsustainable, your first step should be to talk to your co-parent. When co-parents are able to reach an agreement on a simple modification, the two can avoid a contested hearing. Such minor changes include:

  • The days a parent is scheduled to spend time with a child
  • The times
  • The exchange location

Even when co-parents agree on the terms of the changes, a motion to modify must first be filed with the court for the proceeding to begin. After that the co-parents can file a proposed consent modification judgment with the court. By presenting the new terms to the judge, the judge can approve the document, thus making the agreement legally binding and enforceable.

Complex and Contested Cases

If the matters are complex or contested, they will need to be addressed in front of a judge. The parent proposing a change must file a motion to modify child support or child custody with the court.

During the contested hearing, the judge will consider the changes endured by the child or custodial parent since their last Judgment in which they established or modified their current parenting plan. The court will need to find a substantial and continuing change in circumstances to approve such a change beyond a parent or child simply wanting a change.

In some cases, child support may be modified alongside custody changes to reflect the change in the parenting time and thus the change in expenses of each party.

Modifying During the Pandemic

The Missouri Supreme Court outlined a four-phase process for reopening the courts. The phases go from zero to three, with zero imposing the most restrictions to operations.

  • Phase Zero: Courthouse access is greatly limited, with most in-person proceedings suspended
  • Phase One: Courtrooms and public spaces limited to 10 people when possible, with only critical proceedings being held
  • Phase Two: More proceedings held with courtrooms and public spaces limited to 25 people when possible
  • Phase Three: Resume all services in accordance with social distancing guidelines

St. Louis County, the 21st Circuit, has been in Phase Zero since November 6, 2020. While most in-person meetings are suspended, emergency child custody orders are an exception. For nonemergent cases, the court can hear cases through video calls or by other means. It is currently unknown how long St. Louis County, the 21st Circuit will remain in Phase Zero.

Even during the time period St. Louis County is in Phase Zero, St. Louis County Courthouse remains open to the public to file pleadings, motions, and responses to begin your modification process.

Contact Galmiche Law Firm, P.C. for help pursuing a modification to your parenting plan during the pandemic.

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