5 Tips for COVID Co-Parenting
02.24.2021 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.
Co-parenting under “normal” circumstances can prove to be challenging enough, but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic thrown in the mix, challenges abound. Because there’s so much to talk about when it comes to co-parenting in the middle of a pandemic, we’re doing a two-part series of blog posts. Read our first 5 tips for COVID co-parenting, below:
1. Operate under current orders
Orders remain in place until modified, either by consent or by the court. While government and health officials have stressed the need to stay at home, existing parenting arrangements should continue in the majority of cases. Access to both parents is vital for a child’s emotional well-being. There is a presumption that the existing order reflects a determination that meaningful contact with both parents is in the best interest of the child.
2. Consider special COVID-19 risk situations
A child may have special needs or an underlying condition that makes them vulnerable. One parent may be an essential worker or medical professional. A household may have a confirmed case of the virus, or a household may have someone who is immunocompromised or quarantined. In any of the above situations, it may not make sense to the child to have physical time with that parent or the other or their respective household(s). If the parents cannot agree on how to proceed, an attorney can help determine the next steps (negotiation with the other parent’s attorney, mediation, or requesting court intervention).
3. Modify parenting schedules for fewer transitions
If the parents can agree to change their parenting schedule so that there are fewer transitions between households, it may be worth considering to allow for more social distancing.
4. Be transparent about health issues
Provide honest information to the other parent. Have you had a confirmed exposure to COVID-19? Or suspected one? Try to agree on what steps you each need to take to protect the child from exposure. Do not wait to be asked for this information; be transparent and share it proactively. Like it or not, you are in a bubble with your child’s parent and need to keep them informed of your activities/exposures. If you or the child are exhibiting any symptoms, inform the other parent immediately.
5. Behave reasonably
The custody agreement exists to prevent endless back-and-forth over the details of time-sharing. Courts are looking for reasonable behavior during this time, which includes compliance with that order. This includes complying with orders and taking the “high road” should disputes arise. Eventually, the crisis will be over and courts will not look kindly upon parents who took advantage of COVID-19 or behaved badly.
Negotiating a temporary change to the parenting time schedule can be difficult. At Henningson & Snoxell, our family law attorneys can offer mediation to parents via Zoom meetings in order to help facilitate a productive conversation. If you need any help with your family law needs, give us a call!
Want more tips? 4 More Tips for Co-Parenting During COVID
Kelly Eull is an attorney in the firm of Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd. located in Maple Grove, Minnesota. She has been practicing law for over a decade and concentrates her practice in family law. Kelly has handled numerous family law matters involving dissolution of marriage, paternity, custody, and child support.