COVID-19 Related Co-Parenting Questions: How Can I Compensate Lost Time with my Kids?
Brick and Sea Girt Custody Attorneys Understand How Important Quality Time with your Children can be While Facing Quarantine
The Coronavirus pandemic has had a myriad of effects across the globe. One such way it has disrupted people’s flow of life is that it has made it impossible for many co-parents to spend the amount of parenting time with their children that their New Jersey parenting time agreement dictates. Due to stay-at-home orders, canceled air travel, and social distancing measures, many parents have missed out on time with their children that are essential to their healthy bond. So what if the pandemic has blocked you from your merited time with your child?
Communicate with your co-parent.
During the course of determining your custody arrangement and your parenting time agreement, you have come to some very specific, court-ordered schedules for how your child’s time will be divided between parents, and what expectations are for how co-parents will share the duties of raising the child. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of these routines have been shot to pieces. In the same way that making slight adjustments to your parenting time schedule due to Coronavirus is probably not an issue for the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part to weigh in on – unless one parent is actively withholding another parent’s rights to spend court-approved time with their child – new small adjustments to make up for lost time can likely be handled by you, the co-parents, by coming to an informal arrangement.
In order to successfully navigate making parenting time schedule shifts to address lost visits, communication is key. Be honest about your interest in adding additional weekends or evenings, and kindly cite the specifics of the upsets to the schedule. You may have to negotiate, so be prepared to really listen to the needs of your co-parent, and communicate compassionately. Know that stress levels are high after these many months of uncertainty and change across the board, and emotional exhaustion may play a role in conversations. While you have a right to your court-mandated parenting time, you can get it while also tending to the potentially fried nerves of a homeschooling co-parent.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way school districts across New Jersey are approaching schooling in the fall of 2020. Communicate with your co-parent about the remote or in-person learning schedules your child is going to have in the fall. Work together to come up with a homeschooling schedule, if necessary, that addresses the custodial parent’s work needs. Also, be prepared to shift your transportation routines outlined in the original parenting time schedule; and add specific agreements about how your child’s (and your own) safety will be ensured through social distancing and hygiene measures during parenting time moving forward.
Whatever changes your positive communication leads to, additional steps may be required to ensure they are legally upheld. As such, put all changes in writing. If they are drastic, prepare to reach out to your family law attorney to inquire as to whether the Family Court will require that you submit proposed updates to your parenting time agreement. You can also connect with your attorney if attempts at negotiating make-up time with your co-parent have been unsuccessful; there you can calculate lost time and seek counsel on legal next steps to take to recuperate that time.
Additionally, Put yourself in your co-parent’s shoes, and consider how their own schedule may have been disrupted due to having your child for more time than was originally planned; ask if there are any particular schedules or weekends that may help them to catch up on something they were not able to attend to. Consider this rebalancing act an opportunity to not only bond with your child but to demonstrate that you and your co-parent are truly partners in the journey of parenthood.
Creative ways to schedule the make-up time
There are many ways you could recuperate lost time. Consider long weekends, additional evenings, and late summer/early fall vacations of a few days to a few weeks. Again, depending on your child’s school set-up this fall, you may be in charge of overseeing remote learning during the time you spend together. Also remember the power of virtual communication – while video calls are not the same as in-person connection, creating daily routines of talking “face to face” and even helping with homework build strong bonds over the course of time.
Get in Touch with a Parenting time Attorney to discuss your options in the middle of COVID times
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our team of family law attorneys supports clients across the Jersey Shore in Point Pleasant, Toms River, Jackson, Wall and Sea Girt in all custody arrangements and family time agreement matters.