The ongoing health crisis and quarantine in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered everyday life for millions of people in America and billions across the globe. As countries, states, and local communities reel in the face of this ongoing pandemic, one of the most practical concerns many parents share across the country is how to handle child custody arrangements.
Children are deeply affected by the Coronavirus lockdown as well. Schools have been closed across the country, disrupting the schedules of millions. Kids of all ages must cope with social distancing guidelines, which means most of them cannot spend time with relatives and friends as usual. Co-parents sharing custody of their kids are probably finding it increasingly difficult to manage their time at home while trying to work and navigate the many uncertainties resulting from the COVID-19 quarantine.
Court-Ordered Travel Still Stands
One of the main points of the current travel bans and lockdown orders across the country is that all court-ordered travel continues to apply during the quarantine. This includes travel for kids to see their parents in joint custody or visitation agreements. If you and your co-parent currently have a schedule for splitting up time spent with your children, you should try to stick to it as best as you can. However, there is always potential for disagreements to arise. It’s important to keep lines of communication open between you and your co-parent to address any concerns in a thoughtful and constructive manner.
Be Diplomatic, but Maintain Safe Everyday Practices
The current social distancing and travel restrictions in effect across the country aim to reduce overall exposure to the COVID-19 virus and ultimately reduce the burden on the nation’s healthcare system. It is vital for co-parents to abide by these guidelines as best as they can, and this may mean slight alterations to your child custody agreement for the time being. For example, if one parent works from home while the other works in a high-risk work environment such as at an emergency room, it may be safer for the kids to remain with the parent working from home longer than usual since the other co-parent carries a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 at work.
This is just one example of how co-parents may need to be diplomatic to keep their kids safe. If one of the co-parent’s households generally sees more visitors and foot traffic than the other, this may also indicate a high risk of exposure that parents should address. While it may hurt to sacrifice time with your children, do not think of this new arrangement as anything more than it is, which is a temporary change to ensure your children’s safety. You and your co-parent may be able to work out some type of arrangement where you get to spend more time with them after the COVID-19 crisis ends or something similar that works for both of your schedules once restrictions lift.
Avoid Ultimatums and Unilateral Decisions
If you co-parent your children, it is essential to work as partners with your co-parent throughout this COVID-19 lockdown. Making serious unilateral decisions without consulting the co-parent will not go over well, and it may increase friction in both of your children’s households. Communication is one of the most important factors in any functional co-parenting arrangement.
It may also be necessary to be more flexible than usual when it comes to co-parenting but making small adjustments to your usual routine may be the best thing for your children amid the ongoing health crisis. Try to maintain a focused perspective that the changes you and your co-parent make to your custody agreement provide your children with the safest environment possible during the pandemic.
Find Professional Legal Counsel if Necessary
Despite your best efforts, breakdowns in communication and disagreements may arise between you and your co-parent. When these issues arise and you are unsure how to approach and fix the situation, an experienced family law attorney can be a great source of guidance and information. If your co-parent is not following current safety guidelines and you believe your children are at risk, or if you need to make a temporary alteration to your child custody agreement, the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers can help. Contact us today to let us know what types of co-parenting issues you have experienced recently.