St. Petersburg, FL – Gulfcoast Legal Services (GLS) has recently seen an influx of family law cases regarding temporary or concurrent child custody. Temporary custody allows extended family members or caregivers, who are caring for children in the role of a substitute parent, to have the same legal custody rights to those of parents. Concurrent custody allows the parent to retain their custody rights, while simultaneously granting legal rights to an extended family member or caregiver.
These custody arrangements can help families in many ways. The Orders enable family members to give complete care to the child and ensures they have the rights and responsibilities of a legal parent. The Orders can help them make major life decisions for the child, such as medical, dental, or educational and can help them access official documents, such as medical and educational records and services.
COVID-19 has made these custody arrangements especially important. Many families have moved in together because of changes in job status and inability to pay rent. In some cases, the primary caretaker has passed away. In others, parents have abandoned their children, leaving them in the care of extended family members. Without legal custody rights, caregivers cannot access medical care for the children, enforce educational plans for accommodations, or even enroll the children in school. Virtual school and the closing or reduced capacity of childcare centers have also increased the need for children to have a caregiver who can stay home with them during the school day. Without legal custody rights, caregivers are not protected by CARES Act provisions regarding emergency paid sick leave if they need to care for a child under the age of 18 whose school or care provider is closed or unavailable due to the pandemic.
“The urgent need for assisting those extended caregivers and family members has grown exponentially since COVID-19 began. We are seeing not just grandparents, but also aunts, uncles and other family members taking on the role of parent for children. As caregivers face in-home schooling or loss of income or shelter, GLS can assist with filings for temporary or concurrent custody.” – Mara Feinberg-Brown, Supervising Attorney for the Family Law unit
Obtaining a custody order without representation can be complicated and confusing, especially if there are additional factors at play such as domestic violence in the home. GLS can help the extended family member to file the petition, while also assisting them with related matters, such as housing or financial stability issues as well as getting caregivers in touch with proper community resources and programs.
For more information about what GLS does, visit their website at www.gulfcoastlegal.org.
About Gulfcoast Legal Services
Gulfcoast Legal Services, Inc. (GLS) is a regional 501(c)3 non-profit organization providing free, comprehensive civil legal aid through counsel, advice, representation, advocacy, and education for vulnerable individuals and families in the greater Tampa Bay area. GLS is dedicated to serving vulnerable individuals living in poverty, low-wage workers, persons with disabilities, veterans, the homeless, victims of domestic violence or human trafficking, the LGBTQ+ community, and the elderly who otherwise may not have access to an attorney. For more information, visit: http://gulfcoastlegal.org.