We are hearing from a lot of you during this very stressful time. Here are some quick tips related to sharing custody of children during COVID19.
- Model Good Behavior. The number one thing we can all do for our children is to model good behavior. This means washing your hands, wiping down surfaces and other objects that are frequently touched and not going to work if you are sick. It also means not putting other people at risk.
- Talk to your children in age appropriate ways. Kids don’t need to know all the details and they don’t need to watch the news with you. However, they do need to know why they aren’t in school and why they can’t go on play dates and other places where lots of kids generally congregate.
- Work together. There are some parents who are going to be working a lot more due to COVID19. There are other parents who are going to lose their jobs. Can the unemployed or reduced hours parent help more with home schooling? Can the parent who is pulling more parenting duties arrange for FaceTime so that the kids can see the parent who is working? Can you send pictures and videos to the parent working a lot of hours right now so the kids and the working parent can feel some connection with each other? Can you share home schooling duties in ways that compliment both of you?
- Limit exposure. Your child is going between two households. Can you both agree to limit exposure and thus help your child avoid contracting this illness? If you or someone in your family is exposed can you communicate that information as honestly as possible to the other parent? Can you discuss the plan for what to do if your child does start exhibiting symptoms?
- Be generous. The courts may be closed now but judges will be looking back at you in 8-12 weeks to determine who was the parent more willing to accommodate? Who was being reasonable? Who wasn’t? Who offered make up time? Who withheld the children?
- Be understanding. If you are the parent losing your job or who is now underemployed you still need to pay as much child support as you can. Paying no support at all will not go over well with the judge. If you are the parent receiving child support recognize that times are tough. This means you need to accommodate these unusual and once in a lifetime circumstances.
COVID19 presents opportunities as well as challenges. How will you come together with the other parent to give your child positive memories of this pandemic? Will they remember the pandemic as a time they received undivided quality time with both parents or will it be memories fraught with anxiety over situations handled poorly by parents who put themselves and their needs above what was best for their children? You decide.