When the spread of COVID-19 first entered our country in March and short-term stay-at-home orders were issued, many divorced parents made immediate, last-minute changes to child custody agreements in order to serve the child’s best interest for the time being.
Now, in month 11 of the pandemic, many schools remain virtual or have instated hybrid programs, countless parents are still working from home, and cases continue to rise with new variants being introduced.
With the world constantly changing around us, it is difficult to maintain a consistent child custody agreement. However, utilizing the three tips below can make the experience go a little more smoothly.
You have likely been reassured by now that throughout any stay-at-home order, custody agreements still stand. The amount of time you see your children should remain the same. However, along with the pandemic come issues you and your co-parent may have to discuss that may alter your schedule.
Remain Flexible, COVID-19 has made Child Custody more Difficult
For instance, if one parent is an essential worker and one works from home as the child attends school virtually, both parents may decide the child should remain with the parent at home during the school week. One parent may simply be more available to assist with schooling even though both remain home, resulting in a slight schedule shift. Parents should be open to making the necessary, temporary changes as long as time can be made up in another way or at another time and both parties are in agreement.
Many places that provide supervisory services are currently closed, limiting the options of those who have rights to supervised visitation. In this circumstance, it is imperative both parents work together to abide by the custody agreement. Both parties should work together to find a solution for the time being, whether that be visits through videoconferencing or selecting another supervisor, and be open to the potential changes.
Keep Communication Open between Parents
Along with flexibility comes the need for honesty and transparency through regular and consistent communication. If one parent has been exposed, that parent should be forthcoming with that information, and both should be open to the shifting of schedules as a result. If the child becomes exposed, both parents should discuss which household would be most suited for the situation. In general, being open about all potential exposures and social gatherings during this time is important so that both parties feel safe.
As Always, Prioritize the Child
Children, who thrive on routine, are already seeing their worlds turned upside down on a regular basis. In-person school suddenly changes to virtual and back, friends and family members are in and out of their lives, and sports, classes, and clubs are often put on hold. Because of all of those changes, divorced parents need to provide as much stability as possible. That means working with the other parent to keep the child healthy, mentally and physically, and following the custody agreement as much as possible.
Of course, this is a stressful time for everybody and disagreements may erupt. If you find yourself in an endless battle or feel like the agreement is being violated, do not hesitate to contact an attorney for advice and assistance. In a turbulent time of uncertainty and hardship, you and your child still deserve to feel safe and secure.