It's hard enough co-parenting without a national emergency, but now we are in the midst of one. The COVID-19 crisis is affecting all areas of life, not least of which includes parenting time and co-parenting. Here is a brief discussion of how this crisis could incidentally impact co-parent and tips on how parents can work together in a time of uncertainty.
Parenting time is something we cherish. When it's our time to have the kids, we rejoice. When it's time for the other parent to have the child, we can have various emotions: relief to get some things done and sadness because you'll miss the days when laughter and shouting don't fill the home. The coronavirus can upset this cycle of give-and-take, which can have an impact on the time spent with the child and an impact on emotions already unsettled.
The primary means that COVID-19 affects parenting time is if one of the family members acquires the illness. He or she may have to self-quarantine or may have to be hospitalized. If it's a parent who has become sick, then he or she may want to limit or stop altogether in-person contact with the child so as to avoid the child getting sick or carrying the virus and causing others to get sick. This will no doubt eat into your parenting time.
Another way that parenting time can be affected is if vulnerable persons are living in the house. For example, you may not want your child around grandparents, especially if your child hangs out a lot outside the home – whether that's school, school-related activities, or other reasons.
The important thing to remember is this COVID-19 crisis will pass. So even if you are not spending as much time with a child now, you can make up for it later – after the risks have come and gone.
Children sense things. Even when parents haven't talked to them directly about the crisis – they hear things, they feel it in the air, and they can see it. Children are fully experiencing this COVID-19 crisis and may not know how to process or respond to it. If you are co-parenting it is more important than ever that you work together and assume a unified front. Here are some tips to do this.
Accept that you may have to interact more with your ex more than usual – this is obviously more important if you are not on good terms with your ex.
Be flexible more now than ever. Don't fight over who has custody when or if a day was missed here or there. Talk to each other. Know who is coming in and out of each other's homes and what the risk of exposure to the coronavirus is. Be willing to give or take a day or a week or more to safeguard your child's health and security.
Allow others to help out. This is particularly true with an ex-partner's spouse or partner or with grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. Though an ex's family members or intimate partners can be a source of bitterness, now is the time to put that behind you and move on. You may find that the crisis hits close to home and that you are in need of all the help you can get.
Be willing to take on more than usual. Schools are closed. Work schedules have been altered. Financial situations are changing as the crisis evolves. Family members may get sick. You need to be willing to work together and take on more responsibility if that's what's required. Your ex may have more time of his or her hands and can watch the child while you try to get some work done at home. Make use of each other; help each other.
Talk to each other. That's really what co-parenting is about. Talking to make sure you are there for your child and making it the best possible situation for your child given the circumstances.
Keep in mind that it is truly in the child's best interest to work together during this time. If you can do these things during a crisis, then who knows, maybe after the crisis is gone, you can continue to co-parent in a more meaningful and respectful way.
In the meantime, we at Veliz Katz Law wish you kindness, safety, and good health during this time. Always feel free to contact us if you have any questions about co-parenting in the greater Orlando FL metro area.