The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on all aspects of life for millions of Americans. So, it only stands to reason that there will be implications for co-parenting as well. You have probably already experienced the effects of the so-called “new normal” in some form at this point. If not, you can likely expect there to be some kind of interference with your child custody and timesharing arrangement eventually.
Since you cannot prevent outside disruptions that are dictated by the pandemic, the best strategy is to take use some co-parenting strategies to get you through those disruptions.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Uncertainty surrounds COVID-19 (and, really, any other national and local emergencies), but frequent communication can help prevent unexpected events from turning into heated conflicts. Co-parents should be checking in with each other on a regular basis about scheduling, activities, and other issues that affect time sharing. Neither parent wants to be caught off-guard by surprises. So, avoid them with periodic contact.
- Agree to maintain proper health and safety protocols. It is important to hold each other accountable for the child’s safety and welfare, which means following US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on reducing the risks associated with COVID-19. Typically, you do not need an official, signed agreement for small, temporary changes, but consider exchanging emails or other messages about your expectations regarding face masks, social distancing, and other measures.
- Stick to the parenting plan as much as possible. Review your current co-parenting arrangement to determine what features will not need to change because of COVID-19. It is likely that there are some items that can remain in place, serving as a baseline for addressing other issues that will need to be modified.
- Be flexible. Most of the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are fluid. So, you need to respond by being willing to adapt to change, even if it means making changes that you don’t necessarily enjoy. Co-parenting is a dynamic process, even in the absence of a pandemic, that requires flexibility; the need for this flexibility has only increased in the face of the pandemic. Do your best to accommodate schedule changes and honor requests for parenting time that fall outside the normal arrangement. There is no room for “win-lose” scenarios when it comes to the parent-child relationship.
- Coordinate co-parenting around school reopening. Currently, the Hillsborough County school reopening plan provides options for parents, including in-person instruction, e-Learning during normal school hours, and virtual education. No matter which alternative is the right fit for your family, it is essential to work the school curriculum into your co-parenting arrangement. You will also need to develop a contingency plan if your child is doing in-person instruction, and COVID-19 concerns lead to school closings after they’ve initially re-opened.
- Get legal help when necessary to resolve conflicts. Despite your best efforts, co-parenting disputes may still occur. You could try to work things out on your own, but it may be more effective to resolve disagreements with the help of a Florida time sharing and co-parenting attorney. In some cases, a lawyer (or two) can bring parents closer to compromise by narrowing down conflicting positions and pointing out how the laws apply.
Trust a Tampa, FL Child Custody and Co-Parenting Attorney for Legal Support
These tips for co-parenting during COVID-19 may be useful, but disputes can still arise, no matter how you try to avoid them. If you find yourself in such a situation, you can trust our team at Strategic Family Law to protect your rights as a parent. To learn more about our legal services in the area of child custody, time sharing, and visitation, please contact our office in Tampa, FL to set up a consultation. We can advise you on your options after reviewing your unique circumstances.