In light of the difficult times we are all facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the following co-parenting guidelines have been put together by attorneys and judges intended to be shared with separated families during the pandemic that we are currently facing.
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 rumors or other non-reliable sources on social media.
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 that’s intended for adults. Don’t leave the news on 24/7. 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.
REMAIN COMPLIANT with Court Orders and Custody Agreements.
As much as possible, try to avoid changing or making up your own schedule despite the unusual circumstances. The custody agreement or court order exists to prevent endless haggling over the details of timesharing. Even though schools/daycares are closed, custody agreements should remain in force as though schools/daycares were still in session.
At the same time, it would be foolish to expect that nothing will change when people are being advised not to travel, and attractions such as amusement parks, museums and entertainment venues are closing all over the US. 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.
Provide honest information to the other 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.
Try to provide makeup time to the parent who might have missed time, if at all possible. Family law judges expect reasonable accommodations when they can be made and will take seriously any concerns raised in later filings about parents who are intentionally not flexible in highly unusual circumstances like the one we are experiencing now.
There is no doubt that the pandemic will pose an economic hardship and lead to lost earnings for 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 this 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. To all, be safe and be well.
Due to COVID-19, Mooney Law understand the struggled of social distancing and economic shutdown. That is why we have extended through the month of April FREE PHONE consultations for all areas of law we practice, including Family Law. Despite what we are going through as a community, people still need legal help, and Mooney Law remains ready to fight for you. Call today to schedule an absolutely free phone consultation at 717-200-HELP or 833-MOONEYLAW or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.