Tensions have never run higher when it comes to contentious relations between divorced parents with joint custody because many are now arguing about where the children would be most safe in order to ensure their safety.
While the parent with primary “physical custody” may insist the children should remain with him/her while the country waits out the dangers of Coronavirus, that may prove to be narrow thinking: it is possible that the children’s primary residence could also be the home that leaves the children most susceptible to contracting or transmitting the disease.
Couple that with the reality that most courts are temporarily shutting down, squabbles and all-out divorce wars, are escalating with little or no intervention from the court system, unless the argument rises to the level of domestic violence.
With that in mind, my plea (and many others working in the field of family law) is to be flexible with your ex for the sake of your children.
Joint Custody in the Midst of Coronavirus
The following are 8 tips to help divorced parents weather this pandemic:
- If you and your ex can’t agree on a new temporary arrangement, ask for intervention from your attorney, therapist, clergy or trusted advisor. The courts may not be available for seeking a remedy for a significant amount of time. Only in highly critical situations will the courts get involved.
- As you formulate your side of the argument with your ex, take a pause and remember that what is best for your child(ren) at this time must be your number one priority.
- Start any conversations with a new mindset: the intention of being from that which you have been used to.
- Be practical in your decision making. For instance, if you have physical custody, and your ex lives alone where he/she can easily isolate your child(ren) from exposure to others, might it be prudent to agree to leave the (child)ren in the care of that parent for this period of time?
- When creating any new schedule, make certain the kid(s) aren’t subject to “subtle parental alienation.” Make sure you facilitate both verbal and visual communication. Fortunately, today, we have social media platforms; we have Facebook, Zoom, Join.me, Skype, group texts, and smartphone communication like Facetime. Instagram provides near real-time sharing of photos. This is yet another way for the “self-distancing” parent to keep in touch with their child(ren) throughout the day and evening. There are apps for many face-to-face communication opportunities. Download them now. That way you can connect your child(ren) 24/7, being careful not to disturb the other parent at inappropriate times.
- Address the trauma your child(ren) are experiencing. Does he/she/they need immediate therapy as they try to face their fear and uncertainty? If so, reach out. Get help.
- Both parents need to work together to keep the child(ren’s) schedule(s) as regular as possible based on what they have been used to.
- Lastly, engender a peaceful vibe in front of your child(ren), especially in the presence of your ex. The current situation is stressful enough without adding more tension to the situation. Circling back to my core message in this article: Be flexible!
A version of this article first appeared on DivorcedMoms.com