Co-Parenting Tips for the COVID Pandemic
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Samuel E. Bassett with Minton, Bassett, Flores and Carsey.
The coronavirus pandemic presented many new challenges for businesses and families. Arguably one of the greatest but less frequently discussed challenges of the pandemic is figuring out how to effectively co-parent while prioritizing the safety of the children and other family members. With the first wave of initial shutdowns, the question of court-ordered shared custody became immediately apparent, with most courts recommending adhering to standing custody orders unless there is a legitimate and immediate concern for safety.
The key to effective co-parenting in a time of so much uncertainty is communication; it is imperative that your co-parent, your child(ren), and both households know what to expect from each other. It is important to remember that everything comes to an end, even the pandemic, and those who used it as an excuse to deny parental privileges without reasonable concern for safety will likely have to answer for their conduct when the world reopens. For COVID-19 co-parenting advice, reach out to a family law attorney.
Tips for co-parenting during the pandemic include the following:
- Discuss with your co-parent what safety measures you expect each other, your child(ren), and your respective households to follow. It’s reasonable to assume that every household has a slightly different approach to safety and hygiene during the pandemic. Some households may require children to wear masks and gloves whenever leaving the home, even when social distancing measures are easily met. Other households may simply require children to keep a mask and hand sanitizer with them at all times. It is important for co-parents to discuss what precautions they expect their child(ren) to take, as well as the precautions of those immediately around them. Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to find a compromise that both households can agree to.
- Discuss with your co-parent under what circumstances the transfer of children between residences would not be reasonably safe to conduct. In case of another nationwide shutdown, or in case someone in either household tests positive for COVID, it is important to discuss what the plan of action will be with your co-parent regarding where and when your child(ren) should stay. This can help prevent panic and bad feelings if the time comes when your child should or shouldn’t travel between households or conduct visitation as usual.
- Talk to your child(ren) about your plan and expectations. It can be easy to leave the pandemic planning to the grownups, but it’s important to include the child(ren), at least in the discussion of what their expectations can be. It’s important for the child to understand what safety measures they and the people around them are expected to follow, as well as under what circumstances custody or visitation schedules may be altered. Not only can this give the child(ren) a sense of inclusion, it can also combat any uncertainty the child(ren) might otherwise have felt.
- Provide consistent and effective means of communication between the child and non-custodial parent. Providing effective means of communication between co-parents and children is important at any point in time, but is especially important during a pandemic where contact is already limited. Make sure your child and co-parent have access to a phone or computer to stay in contact. This can also help prevent any arguments at the conclusion of the pandemic regarding whether or not one parent tried to keep the child(ren) from the other.
For more parenting tips during the COVID crisis, or for help with matters of child custody or visitation, reach out to a family law attorney.