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Navigating shared custody in a pandemic: what you should know

| Jul 23, 2020 | Child Custody

COVID-19 created innumerable setbacks for people and economies around the globe. Families are all affected differently, but one challenging hurdle that doesn’t get as much acknowledgment is divorced parents who share custody of children.

In a time when it’s safest to remain in one household, many divorced parents have struggled to make sense of adapting to the new normal. On one hand, CDC and public health guidelines seem to suggest that going between households is risky or even dangerous. On the other, custody orders are nevertheless legally set, and with the courts having been closed, it’s wasn’t even possible to seek court judgment throughout most of the first months of the pandemic.

Although the courts are reopening and cases are being heard, there’s still a dilemma about the actual safety of custody sharing. Here are a few questions to consider when discussing these arrangements with an ex-spouse:

  • Are there any immune-compromised people living in either household? If so, it could be dangerous to their health to allow a child to go back and forth between two different homes.
  • Are both parties sticking to guidelines? If one household is adhering to things like wearing masks, sanitizing and washing hands, and avoiding public indoor settings as much as possible, while the other is throwing caution to the wind, there could be disputes over health concerns and risks.
  • What is the plan for quarantining if a person in one household begins showing symptoms? If the custodial parent’s household is the one affected, will the child stay with that parent or at the other parent’s home until the threat of infection has passed?
  • Can arrangements be discussed and decided upon privately, or will one parent dispute changes to the schedule? If the problem can be solved through mutual agreement, it’s easier to manage, but many times, one parent disputes the other. In this case, a court intervention could be necessary, which could take some time. Plus, there isn’t much precedent set previously for this scenario.

Parsing out custody arrangements during the pandemic requires a lot of patience, understanding and compromise. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney if you and your co-parent are having difficulty determining a solution so that you and your children can stay on the road to wellness, peace of mind and your happily-ever-after.