parenting in the time of coronavirus

Parenting in a Time of COVID-19

April 23, 2020
BY: Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O'Cathain & O'Cathain

4 Tips for Co-Parenting During the Coronavirus

Today is the one-month mark for many of us in self-quarantine in New Jersey. For me, that means spending time cooped up in my apartment with my cat. But, for others, that means you have been struggling to navigate the murky waters of a temporary parenting time schedule with your former spouse.

Of paramount importance to everyone during these uncertain times is the health and welfare of our families and those around us. As such, we, as a global community, have taken such drastic measures as holing up in our homes and refusing to leave (if we have such a luxury). For those essential workers who cannot, life is now overcast with a dark cloud of concern and caution.

What do you do if co-parenting during coronavirus is deemed to be too dangerous or impractical given the current state of the world? How do you, as a parent, balance out the importance of keeping your child safe and unexposed to COVID-19 versus the need for time with both parents? Parenting during the coronavirus can be challenging but here are some tips to cope with the situation:

1. Take things one step at a time

With all of the changes being made on a daily basis and the new restrictions being put into place, it may not be feasible to create a comprehensive, long-term plan for parenting time. And that’s okay. It may require you and your former spouse to take things one day or one week at a time and reevaluate as new information comes to light. Attempt to come to an agreement with your former spouse to revisit the schedule on certain dates, and acknowledge that the situation is fluid.

2. Keep the lines of communication open

One of the most crucial aspects of successful co-parenting, when the world is not going through a crisis, is communication, and that still holds true during the COVID-19 pandemic. Making sure that you and your former spouse are on the same page as to the precautions you are each taking, and your respective health statuses will allow for you both to have more peace of mind and will make the transition easier when this is all over. Speak to each other as parents protecting your children and agree upon certain ground rules, whether they be the same or more restrictive than what the government and health organizations are recommending. In a time of great uncertainty, having even a modicum of assurance can provide great comfort. Sometimes, just knowing that you have the same safety precautions in place will put the other parent more at ease.

3. Agree to make-up parenting time

In the event the physical withholding of a child from another parent is required, whether it be due to potential exposure to or spread of the illness, or an inability to care for the child due to essential work responsibilities, make-up parenting time is a must. In the meantime, regular video chat sessions and liberal telephone calls are necessary to continue. Both parents will have to be flexible when scheduling this make-up time.

4. Remember: This too shall pass

Although this past month may already feel like a lifetime, this is all temporary. Whatever schedule you and former spouse craft during this time will not necessarily continue into perpetuity. The schedules put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic are predicated upon the fact that we are in crisis. Keep this in mind when dealing with your former spouse. At the end of this pandemic, you do not want to be the litigant coming before a Court trying to explain any unreasonable behavior or demands.

If you and your former spouse cannot reach an agreement and you require Court intervention regarding parenting during the coronavirus, we are here to help. From settlement negotiations to filing emergent applications in Court, the family lawyers in New Jersey at Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O’Cathain & O’Cathain, LLC, can guide you through this difficult process.