CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The coronavirus outbreak is not just affecting store shelves and large gatherings. It turns out it's also having an impact on custody orders between divorced parents.
For instance, one woman tells 3News she can't get her daughter back because the schools have extended their Spring Break.
By court order, Mindi's nine-year-old daughter was away for Spring Break; but when schools extended the break it kept her from getting her daughter back.
"The schools had called the school closure due to the COVID concerns," Mindi said. "They'd considered it extended Spring Break, so that was creating some confusion about what this should be and how the order should be played out."
It's not an isolated incident. A judge in San Angelo issued a ruling last week for local counties that said the COVID-19 virus special precautions do not affect court orders regarding custody cases.
We're told local judges are expected to meet soon in Nueces County to discuss the same issue. Attorney Steve Lopez, who handles many family custody cases, said he has been getting calls all weekend from parents in similar situations. He said there might very well be consequences.
"The parent that is not in compliance faces a $500 fine, up to six months in jail, as well as the other party's attorney's fees," Lopez said.
Lopez said even if the criminal penalties aren't likely, the act of a non complying parent can sour their custody case in the future.
City Protective Services said you can ask police to perform a welfare check. Police, however, cannot force a parent to return a child.
As for Mindi and other parents in her situation, they may have to wait until the COVID-19 special measures are lifted.
"When you have another parent who's unwilling to work with you, the only person that loses is the child," Mindi said.
Mindi said she has little choice except to wait until the extended Spring Break is over.
More from 3News on KIIITV.com:
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- Officials: People in white suits near old Memorial Hospital were part of training drill, still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Coastal Bend
- Drive-thru testing for Covid-19 coming to Corpus Christi
- CCPD still looking for driver after officer involved shooting