Being a divorced co-parent can be difficult under normal circumstances. Being a divorced co-parent during a pandemic can make matters much more stressful. Many divorced parents put their own issues aside after a divorce is final so they can continue as parents. A divorced couple may make the decision to work with each other so their children do not have the stress of having parents that are fighting in front of them, even if things are not as perfect as they seem behind the scenes. In some cases, divorced parents may even find a way to be friends, or at least friendly, as they fall into a pattern of parenting time.
Family Courts all over the country have been inundated with cases regarding custody and parenting time where co-parents do not agree on how caution or loose they could be with COVID-19 precautions. These cases involve one parent who wishes to be cautious and another parent who feels it is ok to participate in events with others, visit with family and friends and do things such as going to restaurants.
While the co-parents had previously agreed on most things, or were able to handle any disagreements on their own, the issue of what level of quarantine or social distancing they should observe has been an issue many co-parents have not been able to resolve.
The issue is that most courts are still not open and hearing regular cases. Most courts are working virtually, and they are working through an extremely large backlog of cases. The chances of a non-emergency case being heard in a relatively short period is low. Waiting makes the situation worse since there is no resolution and anger and resentment start to build. This issue can potentially destroy a working relationship to the point where every decision that must be made could wind up with call to an attorney, which can get expensive for all involved.
There are things that you can do to help reach a decision and avoid irreparable damage to an already tenuous relationship.
Many couples are being asked to attempt to resolve their issues without waiting on the court system to catch up with them, however, if a couple got to the point of filing court paperwork, then discussion has probably failed. A Collaborative divorce is where a couple works on the details of a divorce with their attorneys in attendance. This sort of collaborative discussion can be useful to resolve these very difficult issues without waiting for the courts. As with any negotiation, have the discussion with your attorney and decide what your boundaries are and how flexible you can be while having the discussion. If you proceed with no flexibility and are met with the same rigid attitude, then discussions will fail.
Counseling is something a couple may attempt before deciding to get a divorce, but as co-parents, your relationship does not end with the final divorce. Working with a counselor could help both parents understand the concerns of the other and together with the help of the therapist come to some form of agreement that everyone can be satisfied with.
For Children who are old enough to understand, get their opinion
Childhood anxiety is at an all time high with kids struggling with this new normal of not being able to see their friends as much as they would like, or in some cases, not even being able to go to school. Children all over the country are also dealing with the reality of having lost family members to the virus. Children are struggling to find their own way through this tough time. If they are in the middle of a battle between parents and not being given an opportunity to voice their own opinion, then the level of anxiety can be ramped up even more. It is vital to remember that you are talking about what is best for you and your children. It is best not to ignore their feelings and opinions as you go through this process of trying to resolve these serious issues.
We understand that these are serious issues you are dealing with, and ultimately everyone wants what is best for the children. Having parents who are obviously fighting with each other is not best for the children. We also understand that despite the backlog of the courts, sometimes it is difficult if not impossible to resolve these serious issues without legal assistance. If you are at an impasse, do not go down the road of fighting and making matters worse for the children or destroying whatever relationship you have with your ex-spouse. Contact our office to discuss your options on how to resolve these issues without waiting for the courts.