If you suffered a serious injury while on the job, you may have already realized that it is affecting many areas of your life. It may also include your child custody agreement. The severity of your injury and how it impacts your daily routine will largely determine whether or not your existing child custody arrangement may be affected. In addition to securing the legal services of a workers compensation attorney, you may also benefit from the guidance of a child custody lawyer. The same is also true if it was the other parent rather than yourself who was injured at work.
The Ability to Meet Child Custody Obligations
As the parents, both of you have the responsibility to prioritize the needs of your child and provide them with the care that they must have in order to be safe and healthy. When an injury occurs, it may make it difficult to impossible to care for another person. If you or the other parent are unable to drive a vehicle, or if hospitalization is required, or there are other constrictions, it may prevent any of the following:
· Transportation of the child between one parent’s home to the other, or transportation to/from school.
· Ability to perform daily tasks on behalf of child such as preparing food, assisting with hygiene, cleaning the home, etc.
· If the taking of prescription medication is necessary, it may impair the person’s ability to operate a vehicle or heavy machinery or to stay awake in order to monitor the safety of the child.
· The inability to work may impact the parent’s income which could affect their ability to provide food, housing, and clothing for the child.
If the parent who sustained a workplace injury is unable to care for the child while they recover from their injury, and if the other parent cannot temporarily take on more child care, it may be necessary to pay for child care.
Temporary Changes or Modifications to the Child Custody Agreement
Any changes that are necessary in light of the parent’s workplace injury, must be approved by the family court judge. This is true, even if the modifications are intended to be temporary. It may be tempting to leave out the court when making the changes, but this can backfire on a few levels.
· Because the child custody agreement is a legally binding agreement, if a parent does not adhere to that agreement, they can be held in contempt of court. That may result in fines and/or jail time. With the help of a child custody lawyer, the parent can submit a request to the judge for a temporary change in the agreement. Once it is approved, the parent does not have to be concerned about being held in contempt.
· Not adhering to the child custody agreement, though perhaps for a good reason, makes the parent vulnerable later to accusations of non-compliance if the other parent chooses to act out against them. The other parent can make the claim that they did not actually agree to the change in the agreement and present their side to the court for a ruling against the parent who was injured at work.