Co-parenting is never easy, but co-parenting during a pandemic is next level hard. Do you send your kids to school on Plan B or sign them up for virtual-only? Who will stay at home with the kids while they learn from home? What if your co-parent wants to forgo public schooling all together? Honestly, co-parenting in 2020 is a veritable landmine of arguments just waiting to happen and there are no easy answers. Just like you, family law attorneys are having to figure it out as they go along. Worldwide pandemics aside, co-parenting can be a full bag of crazy on the best of days. Here are some tips that can (hopefully) make the process a lot less complicated.
Pandemics require masks…and compromise. Ultimately, keeping your child safe should be your top priority during covid times. Co-parents need to communicate, compromise and problem solve when it comes to schooling, masks, appropriate social distancing, etc. Remember, the best thing you can be right now is FLEXIBLE. When it comes to pandemic-related decision making, make choices based on practicality instead of emotion. Virtual learning should take place at the home with the most reliable internet service, for example. Allow the circumstances to determine who your child quarantines with rather than your fear of giving up time with your child. Does one parent have a job that involves more contact with the public? Is a household member in a higher risk group? Honestly consider what changes need to be made to your previous parenting plan to keep everyone safe and don’t. keep. score.
Stay socially connected. The demon virus COVID-19 has disrupted everyone’s lives, but communication should be a priority now more than ever. Stay in touch with your co-parent via phone calls, texts, and e-mails. Maintain social distancing by scheduling virtual visits and making them a priority. Now is not the time to “get back” or punish your ex by using your kid’s time as collateral; that type of behavior is toxic and will only hurt your child and your relationship with them.
Don’t put your kids in the middle. Allow me to elaborate. Your kids aren’t pigeons, so stop trying to use them as a messenger service. If you can’t have an adult conversation with your ex, try using an online co-parenting program (trust me, your attorney will be happy to suggest one). Don’t turn your own child into a spy by asking them to secretly record conversations or take pictures of your ex’s home (an “empty” fridge, for example). You might be dying to know if mommy has a “new friend” over, but that’s your kid, not Lord Varys from Game of Thrones.
Act like an adult. This should go without saying, but the divorce process brings all the crazies to the yard. Drunk texting your child’s parent (or your own child) at 2 a.m. is never a good idea because no good decisions are made at 2 a.m. Cursing your co-parent out is definitely bad behavior, but doing it within earshot of your children is even worse. When you go to school or to extracurricular events, don’t follow the new girlfriend/boyfriend around, name-call, pour drinks on cars, or engage in any other vindictive and childish behavior. Your relationship with your ex isn’t a reality TV show, it’s the example that you’re modeling for your child.
Be careful with your words/actions. This covers a lot of territory, so listen up. Don’t have your child call your new partner mommy or daddy “because it just feels right.” Don’t blast your co-parent on social media and don’t bad mouth them within earshot of the kids (no matter how tame your language is or how much your child “agrees” with you). Don’t post pictures of the kids on Facebook or Instagram without having a conversation with your co-parent first and don’t try to remove the other parent from your school contact list on a whim or because you’re feeling extra salty that day.
Don’t drop the ball. We get it, the road to divorce is a tough one, but there’s never an excuse to act a fool when it comes to parenting your kids. No matter what’s going on in your life, have your child ready to go and be on time for drop-off and pick-up. It makes us cringe to even say this, but don’t purposely send your child with old clothing or no clothing when they stay with the other parent in hopes that the other parent will buy some clothes. Be responsible and have personal care items at each home for your kids and remember, your children are far more important than your beef with your ex.
Do you need help navigating the ins and outs of co-parenting during the dumpster fire that is 2020? Fuquay Family Law would love to help you find amicable solutions! Schedule an appointment today.