Co-parenting can be a challenge even in the best of times. However, when a widespread disaster like the COVID-19 pandemic occurs, co-parenting can prove even more complicated. Your first concern is your children’s health, and you wonder whether the back-and-forth shuffling to the other parent’s home increases your children’s exposure to a deadly virus.
How do you balance your concerns with a court-ordered agreement that declares your children spend equal time with both parents? It takes a great deal of thought and discussion with the other parent to reach a tenable arrangement, especially if you each have different philosophies as to COVID-19’s threat.
Collaboration and common sense
There is no doubt that some parents are struggling with this situation, but this is definitely the time to be a responsible adult and a responsible parent. Just imagine how difficult social distancing and self-quarantining are on your children since they also have been plucked from their classrooms and unable to see friends.
In a co-parenting situation, here are some helpful things to ponder:
- Collaboration and communication are key in all co-parenting. It is a no-no and in violation of the child custody agreement when one parent takes it upon themselves to change a 50-50 child custody arrangement to purely one-sided. For example, a parent could flee with the child to an out-of-town summer home and declare that they will not return.
- Avoid making assumptions that one parent has the illness. Finger-pointing is not productive. Many essential workers in health care, law enforcement along with the cleaning and grocery industries often face such judgments.
- Use common sense. If one parent tests positive for COVID-19, the children should not stay with him or her.
- When distance keeps you apart from your child, turn to technology. Adapt to the situation and rely on “virtual visits” through Skype, Zoom and FaceTime.
- When making child exchanges, consider meeting the other parent at a location that has wide open spaces such as parking lots and soccer fields – as long as few people are in the vicinity. Another option: curbside pick-up at the home of the other parent.
It is crucial to remember that your children need both parents, especially during a time in which their world and everyone’s world has been turned upside down. You want them to thrive. You want them to understand. And you want them to know that each of their parents plays a vital role in their upbringing.