Co-Parenting During a Pandemic

The pandemic has upended so many aspects of our lives. You may be facing a precarious job situation or struggling to find childcare. You may be wondering how to pay your monthly bills or how to put food on the table. In the face of an endless stream of stressors, you may also be dealing with complex family circumstances.

As cases have surged this fall and schools have closed, you may have found yourself in a difficult position. States have begun to lockdown in response to rising case counts, requiring people to stay home and isolate. However, your joint custody agreement may require you to mix households and put you and your children at risk of exposure. You may need to renegotiate parenting time agreements and readjust routines to keep your family safe.

As always, it is important to foster a relationship between your children and your ex-spouse, but concerns about COVID-19 loom large. You may find yourself dreading drop-offs and pick-ups, worrying about potential exposure to the virus for you and your children. Disease experts have been clear that the safest way to prevent contracting and spreading the virus is to limit social interactions and shelter in one place. However, as a divorced parent, you likely have legal obligations to mix households and share your children with your ex-spouse. You may be struggling to navigate this difficult situation.

You and your ex-spouse may have different ideas about what activities are safe for your child. Your ex-spouse may think that your child can still safely have playdates with other children, while you think the risk is too extreme. Your ex-spouse may want to take public transportation or ride-shares, like Uber or Lyft, while you caution against getting in a shared vehicle during the pandemic. No matter what the points of contention or arguments, you’ve likely struggled with new disagreements during these unprecedented times.

The best advice for navigating these difficult times is to take common-sense measures and precautions. Here are some tips for co-parenting during a pandemic.

Follow the Court Orders in Your Case

You still need to follow the court orders in your case. Hopefully, you and your ex-spouse are both being careful and taking a common-sense approach to co-parenting during the pandemic. Make sure that you are limiting social engagements and following state guidance for limiting potential risk and encourage your ex-spouse to do the same.

If your circumstances have changed and you can no longer afford child support payments, or if you or your ex-spouse is able to stay home with your child for remote learning, which requires an adjustment to your parenting time, you should consult with an attorney about these changes.

Listen to the Experts

If you wonder whether an activity is safe or not, rely on the advice of experts. You should rely on the Centers for Disease Control website, follow any state or local safety precautions, and consult your child’s doctor. The best way to keep your family safe is to follow expert recommendations.

Sick Children Should Not Go Outside

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is very contagious, and you or your child may fall ill. In that case, you and your ex-spouse may both have already been exposed. If your child is sick, your parenting time plans may be affected. There are no easy answers in this situation, but one fact is clear – a sick child should not go outside. Make sure that your child stays inside and does not expose anyone else to the virus.

Be Creative About Ways to Stay in Touch

If you find yourself in a situation where you or your ex-spouse is not able to have regular parenting time with your child, keep in touch in creative ways. You can Zoom or call or text with your child. You may also want to play a video game or watch a movie together while on a video call. It may not be the same as seeing each other in person, but at least you can keep in touch.