The COVID-19 pandemic has upended life for millions of Americans, forcing many to remain indoors under quarantine while others deal with furloughs and loss of employment as businesses close across the country. Kids are out of school in almost every state. While many of them are enjoying the extra time at home with their parents, the current lockdown orders have been especially difficult for children of divorced parents who share custody.
Co-parenting is often a delicate situation. However, the lockdown orders across the United States have raised many questions concerning child custody arrangements and how parents should approach co-parenting during this crisis.
Court-Ordered Travel and Co-Parenting
For many parents, co-parenting means managing travel for their kids between two houses. As travel restrictions have shaken up everyday life for people all over the country when it comes to work, spending time with friends and family, and managing everyday errands, many co-parents wonder how to approach travel for their kids between parents’ houses.
Ultimately, court-ordered travel remains permitted under state-level lockdown orders across the country. If you have any type of court order that dictates your ability or obligation to travel, those stipulations still apply. Current child custody orders remain in effect across the country. If your child custody arrangement dictates specific times for your children to spend with each of their parents, it is necessary to abide by these rules as usual for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
Some parents may have concerns about their children’s risk of exposure to the Coronavirus while attempting to maintain child custody agreement compliance as well as following state and local rules regarding travel and social distancing. It’s not unlikely for disagreements to arise, especially when the children in question face very different situations at each of their parents’ homes.
Tips for Defusing Custody Struggles During the Crisis
Both you and your co-parent should understand that we are living in extraordinary circumstances. Some compromises must be made for the safety of your children. For example, if one parent works from home while the other is a nurse, doctor, or other healthcare professional in a work environment that carries a high risk for COVID-19 exposure, the parents may want to limit the kids’ time with the parent working in the high-risk environment to minimize the danger of the kids contracting the virus. Similarly, one household may see many more visitors or do a not-so-great job of maintaining social distancing guidelines. In either case, limiting kids’ exposure to others is ultimately the best course of action during this health crisis.
If you and your co-parent are having a hard time determining the best course of action amid the COVID-19 pandemic, think about following a few tips:
- Be prepared for open and honest discussions. Communication is a cornerstone of good co-parenting during the best of times. Don’t try making any unilateral decisions if you have concerns about your kids’ health. Instead, have a frank discussion with your co-parent and discuss your concerns honestly.
- Be flexible. You may need to make some concessions when it comes to your visitation time with your kids during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, your goal as their parent should be to keep them safe and minimize their risk of exposure, and if that means spending less time with you for a few weeks, it’s important that you see this for what it is: a change in the best interests of your children.
- Keep safety a top priority. It’s not uncommon for conflict to arise between co-parents, but during the ongoing health crisis, cooperation is more important than ever. Try to maintain your perspective and keep your family’s health and safety a top priority no matter how you need to adjust your child custody schedule for the time being.
- Be diplomatic. Ask your co-parent for their thoughts about the current situation, how safe they feel with their living and work arrangements, and what steps they think you should both take to ensure your kids’ safety. Approaching difficult conversations diplomatically has a much better chance of yielding positive results than being aggressive or demanding.
Hopefully, these tips can help you and your co-parent live more harmoniously until the emergency lockdown passes and life returns to normalcy. Until then, recognize the fact that we live in truly extraordinary times and you may need to sacrifice your personal preferences for the good of your children.
If you have questions about elements of your child custody agreement or believe your co-parent has violated your child custody agreement during the COVID-19 crisis, the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin can help. Contact our team today to schedule a consultation about your issues.