Kaufman County Attorneys Helping Clients Get Their Lives Back in Order

COVID-19 Notice

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is impacting all Americans in one way or another and it can be a scary time for everyone. Information is developing and changing daily if not hour hourly as we all navigate through these uncharted waters together. Below are answers to a few of the most pressing questions at this time.

What about my hearing? Based on guidelines from the CDC and the Texas Supreme Court, the Kaufman County Judges have issued the orders to reduce the number of hearings and to help with the social distancing recommendations. These guidelines are effective from March 23, 2020, until further order of the Courts-

  • If a Person is Sick- Everyone who is sick or who thinks they have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact (phone or email) the court to reschedule their hearings or trials. These individuals should not appear in court.
  • Non-Essential Court Matters are Rescheduled-Unless a case is designated below as an Essential Court Matter, all in-person hearings and trials will be rescheduled during the time this order is in effect. Essential Court Matters will proceed.
  • No Jury Trials for a period of March 23, 2020 through May 22, 2020.

The full text of Temporary Guidelines Regarding Health and Safety Concerns is attached.

What does “extended Spring Break” mean? School districts are suspending classes and taking time to begin distance or virtual learning in order to contain the spread of the contagious germs. Most school districts called the time off to set up the virtual or distance learning as “extended Spring Break” instead of disaster break or Teacher Inservice days. This unclear language has caused confusion among parents as how to interpret their possession schedule. As a result, the Texas Supreme Court and Kaufman County Courts have issued the following orders regarding possessions during school closures:

  • For the purpose of determining a person’s right to possession and access to a child under a court ordered possession schedule, the original published school schedule shall control in all instances.

This means you need to follow the regular possession schedule contained in your most recent court orders for possession as if your children were still in school. Violation of the order may result in a contempt action.

We highly recommend using this as an opportunity to co-parent and show your children that when times are tough, both parents will step up, set aside their difference, and work together to do the right thing. DO NOT use this chaos to take advantage of or punish the other parent. Use this situation work towards an arrangement that maybe both parties feel a little pain but agree on something with the best interest of their children in mind.

The full text of Kaufman County Emergency Standing Order Regarding Possession Schedule During School Closures is attached.

What about my CPS case? The Kaufman County Courts have issued an Order Regarding Parent Visitation regarding children who are in the Managing Conservatorship (Temporary or Permanent) of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) or CPS. These visits shall occur either by electronic (Skype, Facetime, etc.) or telephonic means. There are no in person visits at the Department or otherwise until 72 hours after Governor Abbott lifts or otherwise removes or suspends his Declaration of public heath emergency.

The full text of the General Order Regarding Parent Visitation is attached.

This is a fluid situation and the orders, rules, regulations, and guidelines are quickly changing to best meet the needs of the public in general. Our office is resolved to take every precaution necessary to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our clients and staff. We are remaining open at this time, but because of the CDC recommendation for social distancing we are encouraging you to contact our office via telephone or email. If you have questions or concerns about your case, or if you are considering filing a new case, please feel free to give us a call, or send us an e-mail. During this unfamiliar situation we remain vigilant regarding your legal representation, and your overall well-being.

How does “Shelter in Place” effect my custody order?: The vast majority of the cities and counties throughout North Texas have issued “Shelter in Place” orders for their citizens. The purpose of these orders is to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the citizens at large. Sheltering in place does not affect your custody order. The Texas Supreme Court and the Judges in Kaufman County (as well as most Judges throughout North Texas) have issued orders which maintain the custody orders in place during this time. Parenting time and exchanging children is an “essential” activity and a reason for you to leave your home.

A copy of the Kaufman County Possession and Access During the Shelter in Place Order is here.

Here are a few tips regarding possession during this unprecedented time

  • Practice social distancing and follow all public health recommendations to keep your family safe while you have possession of the children;
  • Carry a copy of your court order or decree in case there are traffic stops or you are questioned about your reason for being out during the shelter-in-place period;
  • Keep an open line of communication and do your best to co-parent with the other parent-conservator;
  • Most importantly - be flexible. Issues will pop up – job schedules are shifting, jobs are being furloughed, schools and jobs are virtual, and people are getting sick – the possession schedule in place may be impractical for the moment. It is essential you do your best to co-parent with the other parent and attempt to navigate these difficult times together. Courts will not look kindly on parents using the current epidemic as an opportunity prevent the other parent having access and possession of the children.

Our office remains operational and we are here to assist you if you have any questions about your specific circumstances. To prevent our clients from traveling during this stay-at-home directive, we will be strictly communicating by telephone, email, and teleconferences only. Any office appointments are by appointment only.


 

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