COVID-19 and Practical Parenting Solutions
Since March 2020, we have had an unprecedented departure from our regular routines due to a pandemic that has affected nearly all corners of the world. Many businesses have closed, and schools have transitioned into remote learning classes. When you are co-parenting a child, it can make this difficult time even more challenging.
Co-Parenting During the Crisis
With stay-at-home orders, contact with friends and family is limited. There is increased pressure on parents during this time. Children might not grasp the concept of staying at home and away from their friends. For divorced families, it can be difficult to juggle these transitions from household to household. Many divorced or separated couples wonder how their rights, custody, and responsibilities will change throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the pandemic, you want to work with the other parent. Some of these ways include:
- Trying to resolve schedule conflicts
- Creating a plan for parenting
- Keeping up on financial issues
- Resolving issues without court intervention
Impacts to Child Custody Schedules
In most cases, there will be no change to your custody rights. Many jurisdictions have enacted guidance that stay-at-home orders do permit a parent to travel for a specific court order, including child custody schedules. Some states are allowing travel specifically for child visitation. For the most part, parents should continue to follow their set custody schedule in the parenting agreement or court order. However, it is an exceptional time in history, and some families may need to work out alternative arrangements for their child.
Unfortunately, there may be a parent who doesn’t want to cooperate with a change in the schedule. Any unilateral decision will not be judged favorably by the courts, and a failure to comply with court-order visitation could mean a charge of contempt. Every situation is unique, and a judge will need to determine whether a parent had a legitimate concern for their child’s health or took advantage of the pandemic to control custody.
At the very least, you need to come up with a plan with your former partner. Many things are uncertain, but the pandemic will not last forever. You should view the agreement with your child’s other parent as temporary. If you do make compromises on the schedule, make sure that your child’s health and safety are the top priority. If you have issues with a particular case, you will want to contact one of the best family lawyers for your situation to resolve the problem.
Follow Parenting Plans
During this crisis, you want to give your child some normalcy with their schedule. For many parents, they follow a shared parenting plan. Both parties might not parent in the same way, but they still are concerned about their child’s welfare. Under a normal schedule, parents will share information about their children. However, that can be an issue during a stay-at-home order. You want to keep the other parent informed about the following:
- Health: Your child’s health should be your top priority. You will want to keep the other parent informed about changes in the child’s temperature or other potential illness symptoms. If you fail to alert the other parent, then your child could have a late diagnosis that may impact your family’s health. Whatever animosity exists between you and your partner, you should not allow that to get in the way of your child’s safety and health.
- Education: If you have school-age children who live in two homes, you will need to build a routine with the other parent. You should help your child stay focused on their school workload. It would be helpful to schedule an online conference with a teacher if your child falls behind on work. When you share this type of information, it can help your child succeed during this drastic change in their education.
With health and education, communication is critical with your ex-partner. You might not want to talk to the other parent about your child. However, you need to put yourself in your child’s shoes for a moment. Their world has been turned upside down. They can no longer see friends or teachers in person. You and the other parent need to give them some stability during this pandemic.
Patience and flexibility are essential to help your child adjust to this new and temporary environment. By mutually adjusting your schedule, you can support your child and respect the other parent’s needs.
Paying Alimony Support
Along with custody schedules, existing court orders about financial obligations are still in place. In other words, you still need to make support payments for your child. If you have been furloughed or lost your job, you might want to talk to the other parent. You could work out a temporary alternative arrangement during this crisis. It is in the best interest of the child to try and support each other.
However, if you cannot work out an agreement, you might have to consider an alternative resolution. Mediation is efficient and cost-effective. In the most extreme cases, you may have to seek intervention from the courts to request a reduction in support obligations. You should know that your case may not be heard for many months. In the meantime, if you don’t comply with an existing court order, you could be held in contempt.
At the very minimum, you should try to pay your obligation. If that is not possible, you should do everything to work out an alternative arrangement without heading off to court.
Taking an Issue to Court
If you have an issue that cannot be resolved, you may have no choice but to go to court. While the courts are open to address emergencies, you might want to put aside your personal issues until courts have fully reopened. A little compassion, common sense, and patience can go a long way in these trying times. You could seek mediation from the best family lawyer suited for your situation if you cannot move forward without the help of a third party. These meetings can help you resolve an issue without the use of the courts. In most cases, the mediators can hold the meetings through Zoom or other platforms in a secure and safe environment.
Surviving the Pandemic
There is a feeling of uncertainty with this pandemic. Your child faces disruptions to their structure and sense of community, and no one knows how long it will last. However, children are resilient. This is your time to be the best parent that you can be under these stressful circumstances. You want to be there as your child deals with a range of emotions, including frustration and fear. As a parent, you need to nurture them with love. If you get along with the other parent, you can even invite them for a shared meal or activity. With this collective experience, you could break down some barriers and feel more connected with your child’s other parent.
We all need to stay connected, and you can help in several ways. If you are under stay-at-home orders, you can use technology to talk to your child or the other parent. With a little help, you can successfully co-parent with your ex and keep your child safe and healthy.
Consult With a Family Lawyer
If you need help with any custody issues, you can contact our child custody lawyers at the Law Offices of Kelly Berton Rocco. During this time, we can help answer your questions about child custody. You can visit our website or call our Hackensack office at (201) 343-0078 to schedule a consultation.