"This is such an important time, and we need to protect our children," says Mahoning County Domestic Relations Court Judge Beth Smith.

As lifestyle adjustments and government orders due to Coronavirus force us to re-evaluate every aspect of our lives, Judge Smith wants to make sure parents know they have help in their custody arrangements.

"In Dr. (Amy) Acton's public health stay at home order...it provides that custodial arrangements, shared parenting, transportation, those provisions are essential travel," says Smith.

While the judge hasn't received any motions or disputes from parents yet, the options are still there despite some adjusted hours.

"They are bound by the custody agreement until it's modified by the court, so what they need to do is file a motion with the court. We are open from 8:00 a.m. until noon. You can file a motion through e-filing. You do have to deposit those motions, deposit the filing fee."

Parents are encouraged to keep lines of communication open and make sure each other knows where their child is and that they're healthy.
Judge Smith hopes something good will come from such a trying and frustrating time in our lives.

"Maybe parents will learn to discuss and communicate better with each other...maybe we'll learn to be families again," she said.

The court is also open for domestic violence filings and civil protection orders.

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