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Coparenting effectively and positively is difficult enough during the best of times. However, co-parenting during a pandemic and global crisis is nearly impossible. But do not fret. Here are five tips for parents sharing child custody during the COVID-pandemic.
Follow Court Orders
Even while stay-at-home orders are in place and travel is restricted to only that which is “essential,” you are still bound by the terms of your current court order, so it is important that you follow the court’s order. By following, you will show that you respect the court’s authority, and you can also help prevent unnecessary conflict in your child custody case. The court order also provides an objective plan for both parents, so you can refer to it if you have questions.
Keep in mind that even if your child is taking online classes this semester, you will still follow the traditional school calendar. Following this schedule will provide much-needed stability to your child during this unprecedented time.
Practice Open Communication
One of the essential elements of a good co-parenting relationship is open communication. This is even more important during a global pandemic and economic crisis. Share with your co-parent your concerns and also what you are doing to prevent the spread of infection, such as making alternative arrangements at work, practicing social distancing, constantly washing your hands, and complying with all recommendations from the CDC. The other parent’s concerns may be alleviated if you simply talk through the efforts you are making to prevent the spread of infection.
Be sure that you also have occasional age-appropriate conversations about the pandemic and the importance of following these safety precautions. Try to provide this information in a calm, matter-of-fact way so that you do not scare your child. You may also need to limit your child’s exposure to the media and clear up any misunderstanding he or she may get from his or her peer group. Answer any questions that your child has truthfully.
If it becomes necessary to make changes, try to be flexible, if at all possible. The pandemic has created unique challenges that no one anticipated, such as changing work schedules and responsibilities, shutting down schools, and limiting travel. If a different arrangement will better suit your family than what is in your current court order, you and the other parent can make temporary changes to it as long as you both agree., but get this new change in writing to avoid any confusion or conflict.
It is also important to be transparent with the other parent during this unprecedented time. If you have come into contact with an infected person, let the other parent know. Talk about self-quarantining and make alternative arrangements for your child. Likewise, if your child may have been exposed to the virus, communicate this information to the parent so he or she can be tested and appropriate arrangements can be made.
If you, the other parent, or your child gets sick, work together to make important decisions. Even if everyone is fine, it is still important to work as a team during this difficult time. If the other parent is an essential worker and has to miss a visit, try to allow them to make up the time later.
If you or the other parent has been negatively affected financially because of the pandemic, try to communicate with the other parent about how to ensure that your child’s basic needs continue to be met. It may be necessary to modify a child or spousal support order, but you both can save much-needed resources by working on this issue together. Try to understand that your ex did not cause the current economic hardship and that you are both trying the best you can to make it through this difficult time. Remember that your child is looking to you as a model on how to deal with adversity, so be sure that you be the leader he or she needs.
Contact a Compassionate Maryland Family Law Attorney
Our family lawyers understand the difficulty the pandemic has brought on for many families across Maryland and we are here to help guide you during this difficult time. We can help you uphold existing court orders, help you mediate an amicable resolution in the face of conflict, or seek a modification of your court order that will better suit the needs of your family under today’s conditions. Contact Douglas Cohn Attorney at Law at (301) 986-8877 to learn more.