Parenting during a separation is challenging no matter what, but co-parents may be having a particularly difficult time during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Despite continued “stay at home” orders in many states, children of separated parents still need to move between the two homes. This means that parents have to be equally sure that proper safety guidelines and online schooling schedules will be maintained for their kids, no matter which parent they are staying with. Now, more than ever co-parents have to put any and all differences aside, and really cooperate for the kid’s best interests.
From a legal standpoint, after separation both parents have what is termed “parental responsibility.” This means, that unless the court orders otherwise, they are required to consult each other about major long-term decisions such as education and medical treatment.
If parents have family court orders or parenting plans that stipulate the time children spend with both parents, they should follow their terms during any mandated COVID-19 lockdowns, unless they both agree on other arrangements.
In almost all co-parenting agreements, each parent can make day-to-day decisions when children are in their care such as what children will eat and what activities they will do each day. However, if during these difficult times, one parent finds that the other is not following the same decisions they have made regarding “social distancing” and other pandemic guidelines, it is best to try to work it out between you and your ex.
You should be able to come to an agreement on a set of guidelines that takes into account government directives.
Hopefully such conflicts can be resolved, but, if a parent decides to withhold time with the children from their ex because they think that they are not safely following social-isolation requirements, a court would need to decide if the parent had a “reasonable excuse” for failing to follow such directives.
The current situation may mean some parents can’t follow some aspects of their original court co-parenting orders, such as where changeover is usually at a school or another daycare center that is now closed. Again, co-parents should come to an agreement on an alternative changeover location or supervision arrangement.
Court appointed visitations or custody periods can also be compromised if one parent comes down with COVID-19, or even suspects he or she may have contracted the disease, or has come in contact with someone who has it. In such situations, co-parents are urged to err on the safe side, and modify their arrangements for the safety of the children.
Co-parents, like all parents, need to remember that this is a stressful time for everyone and many children will be feeling anxious. If parents can agree on consistent rules between households and keep conflict to a minimum, it would help their children feel as secure as possible when moving between households.
Good luck, stay safe, wash your hands, do not touch your face – and STAY HOME!
We are all in this together!
Are you a co-parent? How are you, or any co-parenting couples you know, dealing with the coronavirus crisis. Please reply using the comments below.