COVID-19 and co-parenting

By April 8, 2020Blog

Tips and advice to help you navigate parenting issues
that arise as a result of the coronavirus

 

The coronavirus crisis has changed the way we live and work – in ways we never could have imagined, or planned for. Social distancing requirements, closures of businesses and the many other restrictions placed on us, mean that many parents simply can’t maintain their existing co-parenting arrangements, parenting plans and court orders.

 

But before we begin, it’s important everyone knows – restrictions on movements do not prevent children from moving between parent’s households.

That said, there are many other issues that co-parenting parents are grappling with as a result of the coronavirus crisis, including:

  • Children not attending school due to the virus – especially when one or both parents have work commitments and aren’t able to have someone else care for the kids when they’d normally be at school.
  • Home schooling.
  • Self-quarantine or self-isolation – when one parent, or the kids, needs to self-isolate because of health concerns, exposure to the coronavirus or because they’re unwell.
  • Extra-curricular and sporting activities being cancelled.
  • Travel bans and some states closing borders.
  • Drop-off or exchange points being closed.
  • Differences of opinion about what is and isn’t appropriate under social distancing requirements.

The family court says…

  • Parents need to act in the best interest of their children and work together to find sensible and reasonable solutions to issues that arise.
  • Where possible and practical, parents need to stick to existing arrangements in parenting orders and agreements.
  • If it isn’t possible to stick to existing arrangements – parents need to agree to temporary, alternative arrangements, in writing. They can do this by themselves, through mediation or with the help of their lawyers.

A word of advice…

It’s really important that a parent who has increased care of the kids during this time, isn’t seen to be using the coronavirus as an opportunity to reduce or obstruct the other parents time with the kids.

If temporary changes to arrangements mean that one parent isn’t seeing, or has less time, with the kids:

  • Do what you can to ensure the continuity of the relationship – in today’s digital age there are so many different options and apps to help.
  • Consider providing ‘make-up’ time, after a period of isolation or reduced visitation.

If you are struggling to reach an agreement, getting help from an experienced family dispute mediator can be incredibly valuable – and far more cost-effective than getting your lawyers involved. If you’d like to know more about mediation and how it works, don’t hesitate to get in touch.