Putting Children First: Co-Parenting Through a Pandemic

February 5, 2021  |  Elizabeth A. Schading, Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd.

Co-parenting under normal circumstances presents many challenges for families of divorced or separated parents. Add a worldwide pandemic to a tenuous, oftentimes contentious, family dynamic and the results can be devastating for everyone involved. During COVID-19, many families are discovering that previous co-parenting arrangements may not withstand the demands associated with sheltering in place and remote/distance learning. This can amplify an already stressful situation. Read our blog as we discuss ways to help families cope with the challenges associated with co-parenting through a pandemic.

Ensure safety when changing households

Many parents wonder if it’s safe to have their children travel back and forth between two households, especially if the other parent is at a higher risk for exposure through work or contact with others like a stepparent or significant other. Some have even gone to court over such matters. Parents should make every effort to talk amongst themselves to discuss how to address safety concerns before getting the courts involved.

Maintain open lines of communication

Oftentimes separated or divorced parents are estranged from one another, making communication and planning quite challenging. However, parents should try to set aside their differences and focus on the heath and well-being of their children. Maintaining open and honest lines of communication is critical. If you find communicating with your child’s other parent difficult, you may want to explore alternate methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation. A mediator can help parents resolve disagreements and move forward with developing a solid plan for parenting through the pandemic.

Develop a comprehensive parenting plan

Parents should discuss and develop a solid parenting plan to cover the following topics:

  • Social distancing –Discuss and agree on what public activities or events they feel comfortable bringing their children to including sports, places of worship, friends, restaurants, etc.
  • Protective gear, safety, and hygiene – Both parents should agree upon the appropriate PPE for their children including masks, gloves, sanitation methods, and the COVID vaccine. It’s important to adhere to the latest CDC and MDH guidelines to ensure all precautionary measures are followed.
  • Education – Distance learning models pose many challenges for parents as they navigate new ways of learning at home. Setting the appropriate expectations for learning at home in both households is crucial for both parents and students. It’s also important to discuss plans for the summer.
  • Location of child exchange – It’s wise to include a contingency location to exchange custody if the current location is unavailable.

We know this is a difficult time for everyone. Parents can effectively share custody during the pandemic by maintaining open communication and being flexible with expectations for yourself and your co-parent. This will ensure a seamless, stress-free transition for your children.

Barna, Guzy & Steffen has an outstanding team of family law professionals available to talk to you about your specific needs. Contact us today. We look forward to hearing from you.