As we venture out from our shelters, businesses begin to reopen and a sense of a new normal develops after the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, parents must decide when to resume their regular child custody and visitation schedules.
Some parents have implemented temporary custody arrangements to help ensure the safety of their children, themselves, and other household members. For some, that may have meant the temporary suspension of visitation with the agreement of make-up time for the other parent or a form of modified child custody that included Skype or FaceTime visits or a modified schedule. For others, it was merely a modification of some terms.
PARENTAL COMMUNICATION DURING THE PANDEMIC
The most important thing during this challenging time is informative and comforting communications between parents who have generally not trusted each other. When both parents can agree that the health and safety of their child and loved ones are more important than their history, it offers an opportunity for former spouses to co-parent in harmony.
Start by agreeing to the following:
- Our child’s health and well-being are of paramount importance, and we will do what we need to make that constant.
- We will take the temperatures of everyone in our homes daily and exchange that information.
- We will immediately tell the other parent if anyone in our household has been in contact or has contracted Covid-19.
- You may agree that your child and the household will wear a mask in public and enforce healthy handwashing habits.
- If there is an agreement to forgo personal time with our child, we will commit to providing daily video conferencing that is uninterrupted by the other at the time and circumstance we have scheduled.
- We agree to follow the CDC guidelines and those of our jurisdictions.
KEEP YOUR PROMISES
If you and the other parent have agreed to make up time for the other parent, follow through with those promises. Pick a time with the other parent to discuss a custody schedule that works for both parents. Be sure to include special events such as birthdays, holidays, and vacations and agree that the plan is flexible should the CDC or local guidelines change.
Remember, no rule fits all family situations, and no situation is static. When faced with adversity, sometimes all we can do is be a little flexible. When it comes to child visitation and child custody, the COVID-19 outbreak has left many parents with many unanswered questions. It is best to communicate with clarity and come to an agreement with what CDC and local guidelines are going to be followed in each home to help maximize the safety of all involved.
If the parents cannot agree and need legal assistance, reach out to an experienced family lawyer to help guide you with sound advice. The lawyers at Myres & Associates would be happy to assist you.
Seven Guidelines for Parents Who Are Divorced/Separated and Sharing Child Custody During The Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic written by firm owner and AAML President, Susan Myres, and other members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) offers additional advice for parents trying to navigate these challenging times.
For additional tips, read 19 Tips for Parenting During Covid-19 by Myres & Associates Divorce and Family Law Firm owner, Susan Myres and AAML Second Vice-President, Laura Belleau.
Please note: This is not legal advice for a particular jurisdiction. Anyone who needs legal counsel in the Greater Houston area should contact our firm and speak with an attorney.