How to Peacefully Co-Parent During the Corona Virus
By: Attorney Wendy Newman Glantz, Partner at Glantzlaw
We have heightened emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents are facing financial challenges by being unemployed, furloughed and pay cuts. There is a statewide stay-at-home order. The President has requested us to maintain our social distancing for another 30 days.
Our schools are closed, classes are online and to say the least tensions are high. Many parents are experiencing stress and anxiety in dealing with the challenges of the virus. Many of us have friends, family, colleagues and loved ones who have been stricken with the virus.
To make matters more complicated, the vast majority of Courthouses are now closed with limited exceptions. The impact is that we do not have immediate access to the court system to resolve co-parenting issues.
As parents, we need to take a deep breath. Remind yourselves the reason you decided to divorce your spouse. For many, you and your spouse’s belief systems and parenting styles can be different. This is the time you MUST put your child’s best interest before your own. This is a public health emergency; this cannot be used as an excuse to deny or change your parenting agreement. Unless special circumstances exist which warrant the same. Circumstances which would put the safety and wellbeing of your minor child at risk.
Take a deep breath, put all of your emotions aside and try to follow these simple steps.
- Stay safe
Be knowledgeable of all of the “shelter in place” orders and abide by the same. Comply with the CDC guidelines (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html). Follow the guidelines and create a safe environment for your child. If you believe your ex-spouse will not be aware of these guidelines, make a copy. If you have any concerns regarding compliance, speak to the other parent and address your concerns.
- Stay Calm
This is a time to keep your emotions in check. Let go of your past and be as cooperative as possible. Be open minded and solution oriented to resolving any potential conflict.
- Keep Each Other Informed
Make a concerted effort to keep your co-parent informed of your child’s health and school assignments. If, unfortunately, your child is exposed to the virus, immediately inform the other parent. Also, contact your medical provider for guidance. If your child is self-quarantined, discuss with your former spouse. Agree to a plan that protects the child as well as limiting contact with others.
- Be Aware
There could be many reasons you do not want your child to go with the other parent. If you are not permitting the other parent to spend time with your child, there must be good cause. A few situations which may warrant good cause are as follows:
a. The other parent is self-quarantined based upon his or her exposure to the virus.
b. Someone in the other parent’s household or your household has been diagnosed with the virus.
c. The child has been exposed to the virus and it might expose the other family.
d. The other parent has a high-risk job which exposes him or her to the virus.
- Be Cooperative and Creative
Try to comply with your co-parenting agreement. There is a Court Order which needs to be followed by both parents. In certain emergency circumstances be creative to ensure that both parents have access to the child(ren). If needed, create virtual visitation during the interim. Discuss make-up time and be cooperative.
- Explore Alternatives
If you cannot come up with a solution to your co-parenting conflict, contact a mediator to schedule an online session. This can provide the quickest resolution to your problem. Many Courts are closed and are limiting hearings to life threatening emergencies or essential matters.
This is an opportunity to show family unity and create a peaceful and emotionally healthy environment for your child. It is primarily important for your child to see calmness and harmony during these challenging and uncertain times.