After the hurricane, I can’t locate my child’s custodial parent. What now?
The result of many Texans have been displaced because of Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent flooding is that they lose track of their child’s other parent. When Custodial Parents, Non-custodial Parents, and exchange locations are no longer accessible or parents can’t locate each other parents are left wondering how this effects their current court order.
In the face of Hurricane Harvey, many times people were faced with evacuating their homes on short notice. Some families were even split up as a result of the rescue efforts that required rescuers and families to make a decision to send the most vulnerable (children, the elderly, and the sick) to safety first.
Displaced by Hurricane Harvey
Recent reports on KHOU indicate that thousands of evacuees are still living in shelters. Others have found housing in hotels/motels, some are staying with family and friends, or maybe they have been lucky enough to find an apartment or home.
Not being in contact with your child’s other parent can be frightening. If that other parent is the custodial parent it can be even scarier. You may not know where your child is living or if you had possession of your child you may not be able to access the exchange location or find the custodial parent to exchange possession. This can create a potential violation.
What if I can’t return my child due to an emergency?
There may indeed be an instance when you are not able to return your child due to an emergency or weather, such as we experienced with Hurricane Harvey. Even with an emergency, as an extenuating factor, you still may be violating your custody order.
Judges will often take into considering extreme or unusual circumstances but such occurrences should be infrequent. It is best if you diligently work to communicate and make a plan with the child’s other parent.
Work together to determine if the child can stay with you while the custodial parent finds a suitable house. You may need to determine an alternative location to exchange the child if the location in the court order cannot be accessed due to the hurricane or flooding.
You may have concerns about your child’s living conditions because of the displacement of the custodial parent. However, this does not mean that you should violate the court order. You should work with the custodial parent to find a solution that is best for your child. In some case seeking a modification of primary conservatorship in the possession and access order may be warranted.
What happens if I can’t locate my kid or custodial parent?
Most custody agreements require that the custodial parent provide the primary address of the child to the other parent. Each custody order may differ slightly so you should check your order for the exact language.
If the custodial parent has had to relocate due to the hurricane or flooding they should let the non-custodial parent know where the child is currently living. Failure to do so may violate the court order.
What happens if a court order is violated?
Anytime you violate a court order, interference with child custody, you put yourself at risk. Frequent and deliberate violations of your custody agreement can result in your being taken back to court on an enforcement action. Violations that are frequent and severe enough could result in being held in contempt of court, which could include jail time.
Need more information or help?
Text or call America Family Law Center can help you understand your current orders, violations, and remedies.
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