The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has already begun affecting our day-to-day life. Precautions are being taken, social distancing is being encouraged, children are home from school, and business closures mean many Americans are without jobs. Though these drastic changes may be temporary, people all over the country are searching for ways to cope.
Co-parenting can be challenging on its own, but now that the world is facing a pandemic, custody and visitation can be even tougher to navigate. We’re here to offer advice to you during this confusing and overwhelming time.
Do I Have to Stick to Our Parental Agreement?
Amidst all of the chaos that COVID-19 is causing, it might be easy to consider maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship a lesser priority. However, it’s important to remember that your child is experiencing some level anxiety as a result of this chaos and confusion as well, making it even more essential to be a good parent during this time.
Following the terms of your custody and visitation agreements as much as possible is vital in this time. If the other parent believes you violated your court-ordered agreement by denying visitation or other parental rights, they can file a Petition for Contempt against you.
What About Social Distancing?
Authorities encouraging social distancing, the practice of limiting unnecessary contact with others (especially in groups of 10 or more) to reduce the spread of the virus, may or may not affect your custody agreement or visitation schedule. What’s important is that both you and the other parent remain uniform and transparent about where your child goes, what they do, and who they are around when they are under each parent’s care.
If you believe that the other parent is allowing your child around too many people or otherwise not following social distancing guidelines, first speak with them about it. The two of you share a separate but mutual responsibility: to properly care for and protect your child. Their health and well-being should be a primary concern, but if you feel the other parent is acting or parenting in a way that puts your child in danger, you should reach out to a professional family lawyer for advice.
What If Visitation Revolved Around School Schedules?
Many parents find it helpful to schedule a custody agreement where the pick-up and drop-off times are aligned with the child’s school schedule. With current school closings, it might be challenging to find a way to stick to your original agreement. Work with the other parent on establishing a temporary schedule that is mutually convenient for the two of you while considering what is best for your child. If exchanges must be made in public spaces, be sure to meet the other parent in a spot that is a significant distance from other people.
What Happens if my Child is Sick?
If your child is showing symptoms of illness not primarily attributed to the coronavirus (like symptoms of seasonal allergies or the common cold), communicate this information to the other parent. Document symptoms, medications given, and any other important details regarding your child’s health and behavior and provide it in writing to the other parent. This will allow you to stick to your visitation schedule and ensure both parents are updated on your child’s condition so that you each may provide the appropriate care.
Have More Questions about Co-Parenting During COVID-19?
Luckily, you’re not alone. Millions of other parents are going through the same confusion, anxiety, and challenges as you are as a response to the novel coronavirus. Whether you have concerns regarding visitation schedules or the other parent’s care of your child, Alan Billian is here to offer you the compassionate and legal advice you need. Contact our office to get your co-parenting questions answered by an experienced child custody and family law attorney today.