Co-parenting may become a whole new ballgame during the Coronavirus pandemic. For divorced couples who are already struggling with a range of financial, emotional and logistical stresses, the disruption the coronavirus is bringing to our communities and families will likely present a huge challenge.
In this situation, each parent has a choice: to rise to the occasion and model constructive, respectful problem-solving for their children to observe and hopefully emulate, or to give in to the inclination of falling into familiar patterns of unhealthy, non-productive communication. Some challenges your family will face may include:
- School closures
- Altered work schedules
- One or more sick parents
- A changed financial situation of one or both parents
As many families struggle to adapt to this crisis, here are a few suggestions for maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship for the benefit of your children:
1. Keep your children’s needs front and center
No matter how difficult your divorce may have been, this crisis presents an opportunity to rise to the occasion and bring your best self to the forefront. Your children are likely apprehensive and perhaps even fearful as a result of hearing adult conversations. They must see their parents working cooperatively together in a calm and focused fashion to figure out how their children can best be cared for during this time. Commit yourself to give your children the gift of parental cooperation when so much of their schedules and routines are in a flux and anxiety is the prevalent emotion in their environment.
2. Be creative
Although the schedule outlined in your Agreement or Court Order may have had bigger blocks of time with each parent and fewer transitions, it may be that, on some days, the children’s time must be divided between parents within an individual day. Transitions may need to happen in different or unusual locations and last-minute adjustment may be needed.
3. Be concrete
If you haven’t used a written or online calendar before, now is a great time to utilize one to spell out where the children will be and with whom during various blocks of time. Ideally, you can post identical calendars in each parent’s home so the children can visualize how the schedule will go.
Coping with the realities of COVID-19 is likely going to be challenging for every family. Co-parents who work together constructively rather than falling back on old patterns will not only be able to see through this crisis but may also discover new and healthy patterns of interaction that will build for the future. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to co-parent or are looking to temporarily modify your custody and parenting time order, contact the Law Office of Joseph Cerino today.