Trying to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic while also trying to co-parent effectively can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming for parents and children. For parents with children going back and forth between their homes, knowing how to navigate this new reality can be confusing. Our priority as parents has always been the safety of our children and families; and during times of unprecedented crisis, it is absolutely imperative that we make the best decisions in the face of the unknown.
Here are some tips to help you do what’s best for your children (hopefully) with the help of your co-parent:
Communication is more important than ever for your family. Make sure that you and your co-parent are on the same page with maintaining restricted social interactions to help protect your children. Isolation only works if the people you are interacting with are also practicing the same level of vigilance to their exposure. If you or someone close to you have been showing symptoms of Coronavirus, it’s crucial you let your co-parent know as soon as possible and request that they do the same.
>My co-parent is still going out and being social and has their friends over while my kids are at their house. What can I do to stop this? It’s important to talk to a family lawyer for your specific circumstances to determine if you can make a case for restricted access.
Temporary Custody Agreement Modifications
You can drastically reduce your contact with the outside world by modifying how often you exchange custody of your kids.
Instead of exchanging custody every couple or few days, try keeping the kids at each parents’ home for a full week or two at a time. This will limit the number of times you will need to end up visiting the gas station, the grocery store, and your co-parent, while still being fair to both parties. If you can come to an agreement that is fair to both parties and helps to reduce the risk of exposure, you should.
Make a Will, Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directive
This sounds extreme but in times like these, we get a sober reminder that things don’t always work out how we planned. If this worst-case scenario happened to you, do you have a will in place that states your wishes for your children and your estate? Do you have an EPA and PD that direct how your financial legal, medical and personal decisions will be made if you are sick and unable to make them yourself? Given many of us have much more free time on our hands during the pandemic, now may be the time to finally get these important legal documents in place that you’ve been procrastinating about.
In a world of self-isolation, we need to keep our interactions with others as limited as possible. You can’t know for sure what precautions and restrictions your co-parent is following and it’s in your best interest to take full precautions.
When picking up or receiving your children, make sure your children leave all traces of the outside world at the door. Wait to hug or touch your kids until they have the opportunity to come inside, wash their hands, and change into a fresh pair of clothes.
The virus can linger on different types of surfaces for different lengths of time, so it’s important to be thorough and vigilant in preventing the spread unnecessarily. Also, make sure you are keeping door handles as well as other commonly touched objects like steering wheels consistently disinfected.
If you or your co-parent start showing symptoms or become infected with the virus, you may need to speak to a family lawyer about a new shared custody plan. If you have any questions about how to manage co-parenting in a time of quarantine, please contact our Calgary family law office for more information.