How to Manage Parenting Plans During a Natural Disaster


In 2017, Nasa released a report explaining why Texas experiences at least one major disaster event a year. Interestingly, their research also concluded that “Texas is ranked first in the U.S. in the variety and frequency of natural disasters.” Tornados, wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes – Texas residents have seen and survived them all. But what happens when a divorced parent is forced to evacuate with their child? Do they still have to follow the court-ordered visitation schedule?

It’s impossible to predict the future. In an ideal world, your life would never be seriously impacted by a terrible natural disaster. However, it’s always best to prepare for a worst-case scenario, especially when it comes to your child and your court-ordered obligations. The McKinney child custody attorneys at Camille Borg Law PLLC have created this summary of information to address many of the questions and concerns parents have during natural disasters. If you require additional legal assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact our firm directly at (469) 646-7763.

Question #1: Am I required to follow the parenting plan if I was forced to evacuate?

Yes, you are still required to follow the stipulations listed in the court order to the best of your ability. Your parenting plan should include a visitation schedule that ensures your child spends a reasonable amount of time with both you and your child’s other parent. You must be ready to return your child to their other parent once their scheduled time starts.

Of course, circumstances must be considered during a natural disaster. For instance, if your co-parent is injured or unable to care for the child during their scheduled time, you can discuss alternative options that still provide for your child’s immediate needs. However, you can’t just arbitrarily ignore the parenting plan because your co-parent is staying with a friend or at a hotel. At the same time, if weather conditions or road hazards prevent you from traveling, you can contact your co-parent and explain the situation. If a natural disaster prevents a parent from having his or her court ordered periods of possession with the child, the parties should work together to provide the parent who missed time with makeup time. If a parent is denied visitation, the denied parent can petition the court to enforce the court possession order and to get makeup time if the parties cannot resolve the conflict on their own.

Question #2: What if my house is damaged or rendered without utilities?

This comes down to common sense. Your priority in any emergency situation needs to be your child. If it’s your scheduled parenting time but you are facing an emergency and cannot care for your child, you should ask your co-parent to temporarily care for your child or find alternate child care. Otherwise, you should continue to abide by the shared parenting plan to the best of your ability.

Question #3: What if I’m the custodial parent but I can’t return to my home?

Again, you must always follow the court ordered parenting plan to the best of your ability. If your co-parent has the resources and ability to care for your children, you may consider negotiating a temporary schedule modification in light of the circumstances.

Communication is key. If you don’t talk to your co-parent after your evacuation, you may find yourself in legal trouble for relocating without permission.

Learn More by Scheduling a Consultation

If you have any additional questions, please call our office as soon as possible. We understand that natural disasters are unpredictable and often lead to unexpected situations. As such, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your legal rights and obligations as a co-parent. Our McKinney child custody lawyer can address your concerns and, if necessary, help you negotiate an emergency parenting plan.

Contact Camille Borg Law PLLC at (469) 646-7763 to schedule a consultation.

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