Following your divorce, it may have been difficult to come to the terms with the shared child custody arrangement with your former spouse. However, you agreed to it, knowing your child would benefit. But now, the COVID-19 pandemic has added an extra complication. Do you trust that the other parent has abided by self-quarantining and social distancing? Do you fear that the other parent will flee with your child to a remote place with no plans to come back?
Things can get complicated with co-parenting scenarios, especially during uncertain times such as these. It is only natural that both parents make their child’s safety and health a priority – you don’t want them compromised by a potentially deadly virus. Concerns such as these may give some divorced or separated parents second thoughts about court orders, but they must abide by them.
You can continue to make it work
Although a New York administrative judge ordered parents to “act reasonably,” that may not always happen especially between two people who had a less-than-amicable split. Common denominators of trust along with common sense must come to the forefront in such situations.
Here are some key points to consider regarding co-parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Communication remains essential. One parent cannot take it upon himself or herself to decide the best custody arrangement and deny the other parent time with the children. Do not ignore court orders. Work things out, discuss and resolve.
- Do not take upon yourself to declare and “diagnose” that the other parent has the illness. Such accusations fly in the face of reason. Essential workers such as those in health care and law enforcement sometimes are confronted with this allegation.
- Rely on good judgment and facts. A child should not stay with a parent who has tested positive for COVID-19 or has the illness.
- Turn to technology to maintain a connection with your child. If you are self-quarantined and unable to see your child in person, rely on “virtual visits.” Options include Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Duo, Skype and WhatsApp.
- Make child exchanges at places with great open spaces. They may include parking lots, athletic fields and parks. But make sure there are a limited number of people in the area. Curbside pick-up at the other parent’s home is another option.
These are unprecedented times and your children need you now more than ever. They look to you as examples of how they may pursue their lives in the face of adversity. Ideally, both parents play crucial roles in their children’s lives, and they want that to continue. During times of uncertainty, happily ever after comes one day at a time.