We are getting calls now about co-parenting and COVID-19. Most of the focus is on whether the other parent is follow social distancing. There are are no easy answers to the current situation, and we are in new territory. But here are some tips that will hopefully help.
Follow your parenting plan.
If you already have a court order, please make sure to follow your parenting plan as closely as possible. Communicate with the other parent as much as needed, but follow your parenting plan. Court hearings are being delayed and rescheduled, making it harder to seek judicial relief. But if two parents keep the lines of communication open, there will likely be less problems. Remember that regardless of the COVID-19 threat, you are still subject to a Court order. Obviously, communicate with the other parent about the need to follow social distance guidelines. If the other parent is not following these guidelines, then consult an attorney. No judge will accept less than following these guidelines for the safety of all children. Our website has more information about parenting plans and what the courts consider to be important.
Parents should also discuss the best ways to keep online education being a success. Do both parents have access to a laptop? If not, talk about sharing one. Another possibility, if you both agree, is to change the parenting time as needed to ensure your children are completing online school tasks. Remember that courts ultimately look at the best interests of every child, and parents should be flexible. It’s a statutory factor here in Florida, and if parents do not cooperate, there will be many hearings which involve co-parenting and COVID-19.
Be flexible if you do not have a parenting plan.
Many other parents may not have an order in place. They may be waiting for a hearing, or recently separated. We are hearing parents say that the other parent is not following social distancing, and they are cutting or reducing contact with the other parent. This can backfire if the other parent is actually following those guidelines. Make sure to place the best interests of your child first, rather than your own interests. At some point, this pandemic will pass, and the courts will have a flood of hearings on a host of disputes. Some planning now, and communication with the other parent, can make that hearing unnecessary.