Co-Parenting in the time of Covid-19
March 18, 2020
BY: Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich
How to protect your child during a pandemic situation
“Mommy, Daddy says you are overreacting, and I can go with him to Aunt Joanie’s wedding reception in two weeks— it’s only a short plane ride.”
“Daddy, Mommy says I don’t have to keep washing my hands that much. And she says you are wrong about the monkey bars at the playground— they’re clean enough.”
“Mommy… Daddy… is Disneyland really closed?”
Co-parenting is not a myth. It is not just an idea. It is not just a goal. Co-parenting is real, and you need to be able to do it, no matter how you feel about your spouse/partner or former spouse/partner. You need to avoid putting your child in the middle, and, most importantly, you must decide together how you are going to handle certain situations—including our current one, a pandemic.
How can you handle protecting your child and his/her family when that family, and that child, is split between two homes?
The first thing you need to do is talk to your co-parent. You need to agree on whether you both recognize the severity of a situation, and, if you don’t agree, you must decide that exercising caution is less detrimental to your child than not exercising caution. If you both agree on the severity of a situation but disagree on how to handle it, avail yourselves of the information and resources of individuals or institutions with more knowledge of the situation than you. If that information is overwhelming or even contradictory, call a trusted advisor—your child’s pediatrician, a psychologist, a family relative to you both trust.
You can both decide to follow the same rules in both houses— not forever, but for the time when special rules are necessary. If you are able to purchase items that will help keep your environment, and your child, safe, now is the time to share with your co-parent. When many others around your child may be expressing worry or even panic, you can both decide to have a united calm front. You can talk to each other about how to talk to your child and how to soothe, comfort and assure your child. If your child expresses fear or questions their health or yours, share those concerns with your co-parent.
Bergen County, NJ schools are being closed indefinitely. This obviously creates a burden for employed parents, but it also creates a further opportunity to co-parent meaningfully and successfully. Whether you currently enjoy a shared physical custody arrangement or a division of parenting time whereby one parent enjoys more or less than 50% of the time with your child, talk to your co-parent about sharing this unexpected and unique time with your child. Which of you has a more flexible work schedule? Which of you has an at-home spouse or partner? Which of you has other children whose school is also closed? Which of you is better equipped to assist with the on-line schooling which many districts are implementing? Which of you can work remotely?
You both only want what is best for your child, and now is the time to recognize and acknowledge that in each other. This is not your divorce. This is co-parenting.
Discuss all this with your co-parent. Do not be afraid to involve your co-parent’s current spouse or partner in the discussion. These are special times which call for special action. Your child deserves no less.
What a child needs are consistency and love, and you each can give that to your child— even now, in a time of uncertainty and caution.
Contact The New Jersey Divorce Lawyers at Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O’Cathain & O’Cathain, LLC
Although our goal is to resolve your case efficiently and amicably, our New Jersey divorce lawyers have years of experience trying divorce cases. We strive to make the trial process as simple as possible while zealously advocating for you and your positions.