Parenting Time Tips During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The current coronavirus situation has many parents wondering how this pandemic will affect parenting time with their children. If you are wondering about the impact of COVID-19 on your parenting time schedule, you are not alone. As we continue to navigate these ever-changing times, here are some considerations for parenting time.
7 Tips for Parents & Families
The American Association of Family and Conciliation Courts provided the following guidelines for parents and families who are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic:
- BE HEALTHY
Comply with all CDC and local and state guidelines and model good behavior for your children with intensive hand washing, wiping down surfaces and other objects that are frequently touched, and maintaining social distancing. This also means BE INFORMED. Stay in touch with the most reliable media sources and avoid the rumor mill on social media.
- BE MINDFUL
Be honest about the seriousness of the pandemic but maintain a calm attitude and convey to your children your belief that everything will return to normal in time. Avoid making careless comments in front of the children and exposing them to endless media coverage intended for adults. Don’t watch the news 24/7, for instance. But, at the same time, encourage your children to ask questions and express their concerns and answer them truthfully at a level that is age-appropriate.
- BE COMPLIANT
Abide court orders and custody agreements. As much as possible, try to avoid reinventing the wheel despite the unusual circumstances. The custody agreement or court order exists to prevent endless haggling over the details of timesharing. In some jurisdictions, there are even standing orders mandating that, if schools are closed, custody agreements should remain in force as though school were still in session.
- BE CREATIVE
At the same time, it would be foolish to expect that nothing will change when people are being advised not to fly and vacation. Attractions such as amusement parks, museums and entertainment venues are closing all over the world. In addition, some parents will have to work extra hours to help deal with the crisis and other parents may be out of work or working reduced hours for a time. Plans will inevitably have to change. Encourage closeness with the parent who is not going to see the child through shared books, movies, games and FaceTime or Skype.
- BE TRANSPARENT
Provide honest information to your co-parent about any suspected or confirmed exposure to the virus, and try to agree on what steps each of you will take to protect the child from exposure. Certainly, both parents should be informed at once if the child is exhibiting any possible symptoms of the virus.
- BE GENEROUS
Try to provide makeup time to the parent who missed out, if at all possible. Family law judges expect reasonable accommodations when they can be made and will take serious concerns raised in later filings about parents who are inflexible in highly unusual circumstances.
- BE UNDERSTANDING
There is no doubt that the pandemic will pose an economic hardship and lead to lost earnings for many, many parents, both those who are paying child support and those who are receiving child support. The parent who is paying should try to provide something, even if it can’t be the full amount. The parent who is receiving payments should try to be accommodating under these challenging and temporary circumstances. Adversity can become an opportunity for parents to come together and focus on what is best for the child. For many children, the strange days of the pandemic will leave vivid memories. It’s important for every child to know and remember that both parents did everything they could to explain what was happening and to keep their child safe.
If your child is sick with something “non-critical, the child should be exchanged at regular parenting times. If the exchange location is typically the child’s school and the school is closed, you should exchange at the nearest public place to the child’s school. If no time is specified, you should use the time of 2:30-3:00 pm to exchange.
As always, any illness should be immediately communicated to the other parent, in addition to any visits or calls with the child’s doctor. Communicate everything about your child’s illness in writing.
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Attorneys Becky Martin, Melissa Bakeberg, Ethne Hedren, and Matthew Holson, as well as our staff, are fully committed to ensuring that we continue doing what’s best for our clients’ interests, today and always.
We wish you and your loved ones all the very best and we will get through this together!
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Stay Updated on Best Practices for Reducing the Risk of Coronavirus [COVID-19]
Learn more at a reliable source like the Centers for Disease Control