Hurricanes are a fact of life in Florida, and it is once again hurricane season! We prepare for them by securing insurance, procuring generators, stocking up on food and water, and boarding up our homes. Most Floridians do not even begin to consider their child custody agreements as part of their hurricane preparations, however it is important to plan for the impact of a hurricane upon your parenting plan. Read on to learn more about how to navigate a shared custody agreement when a hurricane hits.
Step One: Talk With Your Former Spouse.
For many divorcees, talking with their spouse is the last thing they want to have to do after a divorce. That was the whole point of the divorce, right? Unfortunately, when kids are involved that changes things. When you created your custody agreement or parenting plan during your divorce, it is highly unlikely that you discussed what will happen when a hurricane or other natural disaster hits.
This becomes a big problem when you need to evacuate quickly and when courthouses or other legal offices shut down during a storm. It is incredibly important you talk with your spouse before disaster strikes to discuss how best to keep your children safe. Is one person’s house better to ride out the storm in? Should you send your children to live with relatives? How frequently will the custodial spouse update the noncustodial spouse on the status and location of a child during a storm? These are all important questions to discuss and answer.
Step Two: What Obligations Will You and Your Former Spouse Have During a Hurricane?
Are you or your spouse a first responder? Do either of your care for someone who is elderly or otherwise physically vulnerable? Do either of you live in evacuation zones? Do you or your former spouse have any special medical needs? While the safety of your child is paramount, they will also be worried about the safety of both of their parents during a hurricane. Discussing and preparing for your obligations and risks in advance of a hurricane will go a long way towards helping ensure that you remain safe and that your child knows you are prepared.
Step Three: Make Evacuation Plans.
When you need to get out, you need to get out fast—and to communicate it to your child’s other parent. The best time to create an evacuation plan is before an emergency strikes. Make sure you, your children, and your former spouse have a copy of the plan and are familiar with expectations for communication during an emergency evacuation. You may want to consider using smartphone apps as part of this plan in the event cellular service goes down, as many of these apps will still function on WiFi and other networks.
Need Help Updating Your Child Custody Plan?
If you have gone through a divorce and need to update your child custody plan to reflect an emergency preparedness plan or other addition, the experienced family law attorneys at Blair H. Chan, III, PLLC, can help. We have extensive experience helping families craft agreements that ensure everyone is cared for, and are there to answer your questions at every step of the way. Contact us today to discuss your options.