Right now, Californians are still being asked to stay home to stem the spread of COVID-19. That means working from home, online schooling from home, and canceling play dates, among other things. When both parents are living together or still married, this isn’t as difficult as it can be when parents are divorced, and there’s visitation involved. While parents want to keep things as normal as possible and keep a visitation schedule, this isn’t always possible.
If you’re dealing with child custody issues during this pandemic, here are some tips to make things work and keep things as normal as possible.
Try to Stick to the Plan
If your custody agreement states that your child is supposed to spend every other weekend with your ex, then try to stick to that plan. Under the current circumstances, existing custody agreements are not affected. But both parents should be following social distancing rules as well as other local health guidelines.
If one parent thinks that the child’s safety and health are being compromised, try to come up with a compromise. If that can’t happen, you may need to seek legal help to have a judge amend the original child custody agreement.
Stay in Communication
During this time, it’s essential to keep the lines of communication open. If you suspect the other parent isn’t practicing social distancing or may have been exposed to COVID-19, discuss it with them before assuming the worst. Also, if you think you may have been exposed, be upfront with your ex, since it could put your child at risk. Through all of this, your child’s safety and health should remain the top priority.
The living situation of the parent who has visitation rights should be considered. If there is an older adult in the home or someone who is an essential worker, having a child in the home for visitation may not be the best idea.
The presence of other children in the home should also be considered. The health and safety of everyone who the child is going to be around, including the child, needs to be part of the big picture. Both parents should be communicating clearly about their home conditions to keep everyone safe.
Be Realistic and Consider Alternatives
If one parent works as an essential employee, and it’s not safe for them to be around the kids, this needs to be taken into consideration. Perhaps, the child spends the majority of time with the parent who can provide the safest living conditions. The time can be documented so that when it is safe, the child can make up the lost time with the other parent.
If one parent is working from home and the other is an essential worker, it may make more sense for the child to be at home with that working parent. Since these are unprecedented times, it may mean thinking out of the box to keep the best interest of the child in mind.
When it’s not safe for a child to spend in-person time with a parent due to the pandemic, use technology to stay in touch. Video calls and conferencing technology makes it possible for parents to still talk to their kids even if they can’t see them in person. While this may not be the optimal situation, it can still be a fun way to stay connected.
In the end, everyone’s health and safety need to be the top priority. From children to parents to siblings, everyone needs to understand that child custody may look different during these difficult times. Parents should work together to try to stick to the child custody agreement as much as possible while making their children’s safety the primary concern.