How to be Effective Co-Parents During the COVID-19 Pandemic
COVID-19 cases, which here in Arizona peaked in mid-summer before being brought under relative control, are back on the rise in frightening numbers. For parents, this means co-parenting will continue to be a challenge as working from home, business closures, home schooling and other responses to the pandemic remain in play. As experienced Scottsdale child custody lawyers, we have seen a marked increase in parents seeking to adjust their custody arrangements. There are a number of ways to make this challenging situation more workable.
Courts in Maricopa County and across Arizona have issued parenting time guidelines to help co-parents understand their options. These guidelines encourage parents to follow existing parenting plans as closely as possible, because regular contact with both parents is generally in the best interest of children.
But the guidelines recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic may require a family to adapt to new circumstances. When a parent tests positive for the virus or a child’s school closes down temporarily, there may need to be deviations from the original parenting plan.
The most important thing co-parents can do during this pandemic is to remain flexible. If and when an unforeseen circumstance arises, both parents should do their best to reach a modified parenting schedule between themselves, without needing to go to court. For example, if your ex loses his or her job, they may need to spend extra time looking for a new one, which means you may need to take the kids more often. Or maybe your ex was scheduled to take your son to a doctor’s appointment, but something came up at work and now you have to rearrange your schedule to make the appointment.
Other practical tips for effective co-parenting during COVID-19 include:
- Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your co-parent. Answer texts, phone calls and emails as promptly as you can.
- Make sure your conversations are about finding solutions, not blaming each other.
- Consider using technology for virtual visits between the child and the other parent. Technology can be particularly useful if a parent tests positive or has to quarantine and can’t be around the child.
Whatever the situation, try to remember that your kids can feel the stress of conflict between parents, even if the child doesn’t verbalize it. Going the extra mile to accommodate your ex can reduce conflict and therefore reduce unnecessary stress on your kids, who may already feel out of sorts for other reasons due to the pandemic.
At Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, Arizona, our attorneys are available to answer your questions about co-parenting during COVID-19 and to help you take any action needed to protect your parental rights. Please call 602-789-3497 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We are available through videoconferencing as well.