Shared Custody and Co-parenting Issues During COVID-19 Pandemic Brick and Sea Girt NJ
Monmouth and Ocean County Family Attorney helping clients best to navigate this trying time of raising children with an ex or other co-parent, and keep your family safe
The time of the COVID-19 pandemic is an unstable time in our collective history. The instability and stress that are the root and the effect of these times are felt across the globe. Everything from personal and family health, finances, and employment have been shaken to the core. If you are co-parenting during this time, your stresses in helping your family stay safe are greatly amplified, as you can never be completely sure that your co-parent has taken the necessary precautions to protect themselves and your children from the Coronavirus. In order to ensure that all of you are as safe as possible, and to prevent the spread of this highly contagious virus, it is imperative that you have a system of coordination and open communication with your co-parent.
Unify with your co-parent in holding your child’s health as the most important thing.
During this time, collaboration is key to ensuring your child’s health, and your own. If you have a testy relationship with your co-parent, now is not the time to argue. In fact, it is the time to supersede all ill feelings and work together to develop a system of preventative health and flow to your routine that keeps you safe from this highly contagious virus. Remember that COVID-19 spreads often in the absence of symptoms, so a jointly-developed system of procedures is essential. What are house entry and exit procedures? What do you do with shoes and clothes when you arrive home with the child, no matter to which home? What are house cleaning procedures for keeping the surfaces free from contamination? Consider all necessary precautions when developing your co-parenting systems for keeping your child safe, including those recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
Communication is key.
During unstable times such as these, communication is key to keep everyone in the family safe. This means both communications with your co-parent and communication with your child. Because a child is already experiencing the instability of a move between houses, it is important to be open about what is happening with the COVID-19 pandemic to explain why you are taking extra precautions; this will help them feel grounded and anchored.
Work as a team – co-parents and children – to develop a proactive system of pickups and dropoffs, sanitization processes for leaving and arriving home, and an emergency action plan in the case that anyone develops symptoms of COVID-19. When communication between co-parents leads to systems of safety that are carried out in both homes, a child may even feel bolstered in their sense of ‘togetherness’ and family. Utilize these two-home systems of safety and hygiene to empower your child to take their health into their own hands. Giving them jobs around the house (that they are responsible for in both houses) creates coherence among homes and gives them a sense of agency.
Maintain established parenting time agreements and court-ordered custody agreements as much as possible.
For many, this is a time of total upheaval. Those who are navigating changes in their own personal and professional routines and lifestyle as well as juggling a custody arrangement with a co-parent are especially affected. For this reason, maintaining as many court-ordered custodial systems as safely possible at this time can prevent unnecessary additional stress.
Parenting time agreements were established to create a sense of stability for your child and for you. They create a rhythm and routine that helps a child feel emotionally safe. If you and your co-parent agree that it is safe to move the child back and forth between homes, and you have set up systems in your own life and your agreed-upon time with your child in order to prevent the spread of the virus, it can be immensely stabilizing for the child to feel the normal routine playing out, even amidst an abnormal global backdrop.
So what if it’s not safe or possible for the parenting time schedule or regular custodial visits to take place?
See your co-parent as the partner they are in raising your child. If you are unable to visit your child due to the pandemic, or you have your child full-time due to the quarantine, thought partner with your co-parent to develop ways to make ‘visits’ possible. Set up a nightly storytime on a video call, or have daily play breaks outside where you each exercise together, again on a video call.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Brick and Sea Girt NJ Today
At Bronzino Law Firm, our attorneys are committed to supporting our clients across Spring Lake, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Brick, and Ocean County in navigating their custodial agreements and parenting time agreements as necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.