Sharing custody is hard enough when there is not a global health crisis, and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has certainly made co-parenting more complicated. When it comes to co-parenting during the pandemic, though, there is only one thing you really need to remember:
As long you approach your challenges with this mentality, you and your co-parent should be able to handle anything that comes your way. To help you put your child’s needs before your own, we’ve compiled some questions you can consider:
How Often Should Your Child Move Between Homes?
Like other states, New York is upholding existing child custody and child support orders during the pandemic. If you have a parenting plan, you should stick with it – unless you decide the plan is no longer in your child’s best interest.
Before taking child custody matters to (virtual) court, however, talk to your co-parent. Maybe you can agree to switch houses once a month instead of every 2 weeks to minimize possible exposure to COVID-19 or make another informal adjustment to your existing plan (whatever it may be). If you agree about something but don’t trust your co-parent to uphold the new agreement, you can have your agreement signed by a judge, so it becomes a new court order.
Is One Household Better for Homeschooling Than the Other?
Some parts of the Bronx simply have better Wi-Fi than others, and if your child is attending school virtually, they should be wherever the internet service is better. Some parents are also better able to facilitate virtual learning than others – because of their work schedules, patience, or other factors.
Your child should spend most of their time where it is easiest for them to learn. If you can work from home and help your child with school during the week and your co-parent cannot, consider making a parenting plan where you get your child during the week and your co-parent gets your child on weekends. If your work schedule is flexible, you can still carve out time for bonding and fun activities.
Where Is Your Child’s Risk of Exposure the Lowest?
Conversely, you may not want to have your child around as much if you work in a high-risk occupation. While this may be painful, you will be reducing your child’s risk of exposure to COVID-19, and you can make a plan that lets you see them during breaks from work (with testing on either side) or arrange for safe, outdoor visits.
Where Can Your Child Play Outside Safely?
Speaking of the outdoors, if your co-parent lives right next to a park, you may want to let your child spend more time at their house. Outdoor recreation is important, and your child is much safer playing in the park than riding their bike on a busy street.
If you can’t find a safe space for your child to play outside every day, and your co-parent has a backyard, consider this when deciding where your child will spend the majority of their time.
How Can You Maintain Consistency Between Households?
Even if you can split time 50/50 and give your child everything they need, you will need to be consistent about the rules. If one parent makes their child wear a face mask, and the other parent does not, this can be confusing for the child. Similarly, if one parent allows playdates and the other wants to cut back on socialization and exposure points, this can cause conflict.
Before sending kids back and forth with mixed messages, take a moment to talk to your co-parent and agree upon the rules. Try to be mindful of each parent’s comfort levels and know that you both want what is best for your child.
How Can You Work Together to Do What’s Best for Your Child?
Communication is key. Talk to your co-parent often and stay flexible and creative. If you face a disagreement you cannot overcome, talk to an attorney – and do not put your child in the middle of it.
Even if you cannot agree on something, keep in mind that you both want the best for your kid. Your attorneys and the family law court just want to help you find out what that is.