The world is going through an incredibly fearful and stressful time right now. There is so much unknown about this invisible threat. For parents who have shared parenting, the possible interruptions in their ability to spend time with their children is just an added layer of that stress and fear. However, there are some way we can get out in front of this.
The first thing parents should do is communicate. Find the time where both parents can set aside 30 minutes and discuss a plan for your children. You may think your ex-spouse is not interested in talking to you but there is a high likelihood that they are experiencing the same concerns you have regarding the children. Communicating those concerns is the first step in creating a plan for both parents to spend as much time as possible with the children. Consider allowing your ex-spouse to spend time with your children at your house or maybe you can spend time with them at your ex-spouse’s home. Perhaps a parent sacrificing time can make up for it during the summer. Try to be creative in making parenting arrangements and be responsive to your ex-spouse’s concern, you are in this together.
Another issue that is currently being experienced is home-schooling. Schools are closed and children are attending virtual classes, or are required to do the work at home. Many people may not have contingencies for this built into their parenting plans. First, look through your parenting plan and find out if there is a contingency for school interruptions. If there is, have that be the starting point for negotiations with your ex-spouse to determine how the parenting schedule can be accommodated during the school interruption. However, if there is no contingency built-in, consider the language regarding your children missing school due to closings or sickness and examine the spirit of this agreement as a possible starting point.
It’s important to remember that these are trying times for everyone and this is an opportunity for you to bring the best version of yourself, as a parent and human being, to the forefront. Your children may be unsure of everything that is going on, some may even have their own fears of the virus, but them witnessing their parents working together to put them in the best position can help ease their fears and stress during these times. You may have to get creative to ensure both parents are spending as much time with the children as possible, and it may take some trial and error, but putting your best foot forward is putting your children in their best position.
What if you can’t agree? The last thing you should do is break your parenting order. You need to get an agreement between you and your ex-spouse. Frankly, there is no other option – Courts are closed. Tread lightly because Court’s take very seriously the interference with Custody and visitation rights. Also, take time to look over your parenting agreement and understand the exact language; there may be options that you were not previously aware of. If you cannot agree with your ex-spouse, contact an experienced attorney to examine your parenting agreement so you can understand your options.