As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate, child custody has emerged as an unforeseen battleground between co-parents. From keeping kids safe when one parent is an essential worker, to dealing with school shutdowns, co-parents across the country face unique hurdles as a result of the coronavirus.
Understanding how COVID-19 affects your current custody arrangement, and what steps you can take to improve your parenting plan going forward, can help you navigate this challenging time more easily.
How to Handle Co-Parenting During COVID-19
Co-parents are in for a rough time during the coronavirus pandemic, but taking the right precautions can help you succeed. Here are some tips for handling COVID-19:
- Keep in mind that your custody order is still legally binding. Unless you formally modify your custody arrangement in court, you must still exchange custody as dictated in the custody order. Refusing to transfer custody could result in legal penalties. If you decide to pursue legal action against your co-parent, such as filing a custody order modification, keep in mind that most courts are backlogged right now, and your case won't be heard immediately.
- If one parent is an essential worker or might come into contact with COVID-19, discuss options. For example, it may be prudent to adjust the custody arrangement so the at-risk parent uses video tools like Skype or FaceTime to see the children instead of taking physical custody. Your utmost priority should be keeping your children safe, and unfortunately, that might mean one parent giving up visitation temporarily.
- Make sure both parents have the same boundaries when it comes to safety. Both parents should agree on matters such as whether the children should wear a mask to go out, if the children can have playdates, whether the parents can have friends visit, etc. If both parents are on the same page, it will reduce friction between all parties.
- Determine how to support your child academically and emotionally. Schools are shut down right now. As a result, many children are learning online, which might be a difficult adjustment. Compounding on the problem, your kids probably miss their friends and are bummed about missing events like prom and graduation. Parents should discuss how to support their kids.
- Determine whether your current parenting plan is even realistic. COVID-19 has economically impacted many Americans. For parents who lost their jobs or have suddenly found themselves working part-time, a previously determined child custody arrangement may be untenable. Job-hunting while caring for a child might also be difficult. Parents should discuss how their current circumstances affect the child custody arrangement. If necessary, co-parents should make adjustments to preserve the well-being of their children.
Parents are facing an unprecedented amount of stress right now. At The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, we can help you make sure your current custody arrangement is airtight and meets your needs.