March 2020 is one for the books. We have gone from worrying about a week that began with a full moon and ended with Friday the 13th to this week we are all working from home and our kids may not go back to school for months. What does that mean for parenting with an ex-spouse and what, more importantly, does it mean for your kids?
When we are dealing with custody and how to apportion parenting time, the overall guiding principle is what is in the best interest of the child. The addition of the coronavirus makes it no different now.
Whether you have a set parenting schedule, or you are flexible based on a parent that has an ever-changing schedule, now is not the time to be trying to take advantage of the situation. If you work in the health care field, you are probably on the front lines of this outbreak. Thank you. While you justifiable want to spend time with your kids when you are off, if you think, for any reason, that you have been exposed to COVID-19, don’t. Facetime, skype, talk on the phone but now is when family is important. Let the other parent care for your children on a day to day basis until you have a clean bill of health. On the flip side, if you are the parent that is taking on more time because you are not in healthcare nor do you work in other necessary services (which include grocery stores), make sure the kids talk with the other parents as much as possible. While kids may not show it, they are anxious and probably worried about the parent they are not getting to see. It is okay to let the kids know what is going on but try to limit their exposure to the news and the daily statistics.
If both parents are healthy but work schedules have changed, be flexible. Life will get back to normal, but this is a time we need, we must, work together. Keep in mind that kids are still in the school year. If either parent is a teacher, let that parent take the lead on home schooling and adjust parenting time accordingly. If neither is in the education field, help each other out. Keep up to date on what schoolwork needs to be done and what the other parent is going to cover.
As you and your attorney were putting together a parenting agreement, you likely know that not every situation, not every “what if” could be included. Your agreement would look like the federal budget. Rather, it is best to think of the situation from both sides, communicate with the other parent and always, ALWAYS think how your actions will affect your child. If your child sees you and the other parent communicating and being flexible with each other, that will make your child feel more secure as we move through this very uncertain time. Go outside, play, let them still be kids. Assure your kids and the other parent that you will all support each other through this period even if you are not all under the same roof.
This blog is intended to be general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. To further discuss this, or other matters regarding your specific circumstances, please contact any of our domestic relations attorneys.