Being a parent is not an easy job. While it is extremely rewarding, it also comes with its own set of challenges. When a couple gets a divorce, child custody can create additional hurdles. For example, creating a custody schedule that both parents are comfortable with and learning to cope when their children are with the other parent may take some getting used to.
Now, when you combine this situation with a global pandemic, the parents and children involved may feel like their world has been turned upside down. If you are currently co-parenting, learning how to deal with the stress and reality of the uncertain environment in addition to custody challenges can be overwhelming to say the least. Regardless of the challenges of co-parenting, it is important for the entire family to manage these circumstances successfully for the sake of all members of the family. These co-parenting tips during COVID-19 may help your family thrive during this challenging time:
- Collaborate with Your Ex-Spouse: When sharing custody of children, it is highly recommended that everyone works together after divorce whether there is a pandemic at hand or not. Children do best when parents have a positive, flexible relationship with one another so learning to overcome hurdles together will be key. One way this can be accomplished is by making an extra effort to communicate well with each other. While this may mean communicating with each other separate from your children, and this is recommended when having serious conversations, do not forget that you can also utilize technology, such as video chatting, so you can see and interact with your children even when you are not able to be together.
- Manage Custody Schedules Appropriately: This topic can be complicated during any time let alone a pandemic and should be planned case by case as every family will most likely have different arrangements. For example, one parent may be an essential worker and is higher risk than the other parent. In this case, the parents may decide that it is safest for the children to be with one parent more than the other. In another case, one parent may need the other parent to have the children at different times because they must work from home and their children are not able to be in school or daycare during work hours. Discussing your unique situation with your ex-spouse and coming to an agreement that works well for both of you, and that is safest for your children, is recommended. If no separate arrangement can be reached during the pandemic, parents must continue to follow the custody schedule set forth in their applicable custody order of court.
- Discuss and Agree on Boundaries: This tip is always important but especially critical during a pandemic. We encourage you and your ex-spouse to discuss what you are and are not comfortable with and come together to agree on certain boundaries. For example, one parent may feel that it is safe for their children to have playdates with other children while the other parent may feel that it is still not safe for their children to have this level of interaction due to the spread of COVID-19. Once you and your ex-spouse understand how the other is feeling and can agree on what the boundaries are, your stress level will likely come down and you may feel more at ease.
- Know When to Contact Your Attorney: While these tips may help some divorced couples to co-parent successfully during the pandemic, some parents may find that they need support from an attorney. For example, if your ex-spouse is keeping your children for longer periods of time than agreed upon without your consent, is not communicating with you regularly, or is constantly late meeting you with your children, you may want to contact your attorney to help you navigate the situation.
RELATED: Learn more about how to successfully co-parent.
We understand that co-parenting is not an easy task, especially when presented with a global pandemic, and hope that our tips can help you take the situation at hand and create a positive environment for you, your ex-spouse, and most importantly, your children.
If you have questions about child custody, or if you want to learn more about how our experienced attorneys can help you, contact us online or call our office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at 412-261-4040.