How to Effectively Co-Parent During the Coronavirus
For parents everywhere, COVID-19 created many challenges. With school and daycare closures, parents had to figure out how to work from home with their children. Others found themselves parent turned teacher overnight. For those parents navigating child custody arrangements during this time, the ups and downs of co-parenting took a different effect entirely. For some, trying to synch schedules with an ex-spouse during a pandemic was not exactly ideal and amplified issues within their dynamic. Fortunately, we have compiled a list of tips to help you and your ex-spouse co-parent more effectively.
Step One: Create a Parenting Plan
A parenting plan allows you and your ex-spouse to create a consistent routine for your child during COVID-19. This provides your child with structure, which creates a feeling of comfort and safety for him/her. Your parenting plan might include the following:
- Determining how to divide the child’s time between each parent
- Creating a school schedule for homeschooling (include time for breaks and lunch)
- Establishing clear boundaries between school time and playtime
- Planning ideas for holiday activities
- Making up parenting time (in case one parent missed some time due to COVID-19)
- Practicing safe exchanges between households
- Limiting screen time
Step Two: Establish Safe Areas to Exchange Your Child
As many businesses in New Jersey are still closed at the time of writing this blog, it is important for parents to determine where they can safely exchange their child. For more information on business closures and reopenings, you can view the state of New Jersey’s COVID-19 Information Hub.
Step Three: Agree on Which Behavior is Acceptable
Parents tend to disagree about what is and is not acceptable behavior for their child(ren). For example, they may argue over how much screen time a child can have. It is important for parents to determine which behavior is considered safe for their child during COVID-19. Parents may need to establish rules regarding the following concerns:
- Which places can the child visit?
- What mask is appropriate/can the child take the mask off for any reason (for instance, at a restaurant to eat food)?
- Is it safe for the child to play with another child if they maintain a 6-foot distance from each other?
Step Four: Learn from FAQs Regarding Co-Parenting and Child Custody
Can My Ex-Spouse Deny Parenting Time?
You cannot deny parenting time, even during COVID-19. If you feel that your child’s life is at risk, you can consult with your lawyer to determine if filing an emergency child custody order modification is appropriate.
It is understandable why you may be scared to share child custody during this time. Therefore, it is advisable to follow your County’s public health directives regarding stay-at-home orders, closures, social distancing protocols and sanitation-related measures. You should also share these directives with your child and ex-spouse to ensure you are all following the same rules.
How Can I Safely Exchange my Child?
It is advisable to follow the Center for Disease Control’s protocols on how to protect you and your loved ones from contracting coronavirus. If you interact with other individuals, it would be beneficial to share your preferred methods of sanitation and communication as well to adhere to the health and safety standards you feel comfortable with as parents.
Can I Make Up Parenting Time?
In the event one parent missed parenting time due to COVID-19 or a government-issued order, it is advisable for both parents to reschedule this time in a way that works well for their family. If you need legal assistance to do so, you can contact an experienced lawyer.
If you need support following your child custody order amidst COVID-19, contact our office online or give us a call at (908) 259-6673 today.