Co-parenting can be challenging under the best of circumstances. We are hearing from our clients about new challenges that are coming up in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want you to know that you are not alone. Here are some useful tips as you move forward:
- Your court order still governs, but consider being flexible to meet the best interest of your children.
If either parent’s work exposes them to an increase risk of infection or either parent is diagnosed with COVID-19, consider working together to come up with creative solutions to make sure that your children still get meaningful time with that parent. While FaceTime and Skype are good options, so is playing an online game or screen sharing on Google Hangouts to help with school work. Make sure that any changes that you make to your existing schedule are in writing and specify when things will go back to normal.
- If possible, provide consistency and uniformity for your children.
During times of uncertainty, children desire consistency and routine. Discuss what rules and restrictions will be put in place regarding social distancing in each home. It can be difficult for children to understand why sleepovers and playing at the park is prohibited in one home, while it is acceptable in the other home.
- Work with your co-parent to create a consistent schedule of daily activities for your child.
Share resources for online learning opportunities and utilize shared online schedules to make sure your children’s lives have a sense of normalcy. If you need some ideas to get you started:
- If your co-parent is unwilling or hesitant to work together, do the best you can for your children.
Keep your routines consistent and follow the recommendations of the officials to the best of your ability. If you must deviate from the court order, make sure that you speak with your attorney first, then document your reasoning in writing to the other parent. If the other parent is making poor decisions and not looking out for the best interest of the children, make sure to communicate your concerns in writing to the other parent. Then discuss what next steps should be with your attorney.
- Check in with your professionals, most of us are available remotely.
If you have a parenting coordinator assigned to your custody case or a co-parenting therapist, check in with them to help you make the tough calls if you are having trouble reaching consensus. Reach out to your attorney if you have questions or need clarification. If your children see a therapist, try to maintain any appointment for them remotely. The same goes for your own mental health needs. This is a challenging time, so lean on the professional support network you have in place to help.