Parents in the middle of a divorce or already divorced are facing new challenges during the coronavirus crisis. One of the most common problems involves parenting time. Switching children back and forth between parents may pose health risks. However, some parents may use the situation as an excuse for not complying with agreements and interfering with the other parent’s relationship with the child. Courts are only dealing with essential matters now. As a result, disputes involving children must be solved by parents. For the sake of the children, parents should be cooperating particularly in these difficult times.
Generally, parents are expected to abide by court orders and agreements regarding custody and visitation. However, the COVID crisis means adopting common sense measures. If a parent may have been exposed to the coronavirus, other arrangements may need to be made. In other circumstances, it may be safe to continue parenting time. In either event, phone and online communications should be utilized to ensure that the noncustodial parent has time with the children and is equally available to provide emotional support to the children.
Parents must realize that whatever arrangements are made, they must be in the best interests of the children. This is a moral imperative as well as a legal requirement. Ultimately, courts will get involved and uncooperative parents will be held accountable. In the meantime, they may do significant damage to their children’s emotional state and relationship with both parents as well as the relationship between the parents.
Ideally, parents should utilize mediation or a collaborative process to resolve their divorce and custody matters. Mediation allows the parties to devise their own solutions with the help of a neutral facilitator who structures the parties’ approach to the issues that must be addressed. Alternatively, the collaborative process relies on a team approach whereby both parents are represented by attorneys and financial, mental health and child experts are brought in to provide information and guidance to the parents and facilitate agreement. Among the benefits of collaborative divorce are that it gives the parties tools they can use to resolve future disputes.
If you and your former spouse are having difficulties regarding visitation and/or custody in our present COVID-19 world, I would be happy to discuss the appropriate process to use to facilitate some mutually acceptable conduct guidelines for your family. Give me a call to arrange for a consultation. STAY SAFE!