During these uncertain times, many families are worried about how to stay safe and prepared for any scenario. If you are trying to self-isolate while sharing custody of your child, things can be much more complicated. Leaders from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) have released guidelines for co-parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic, which will be covered by our law firm in Greeley and Erie below.
Peek Goldstone, LLC is here to provide residents across Northern Colorado with high-quality legal counseling, guidance, and representation. Our family lawyers are experienced in handling a variety of family matters, including adoption, child support and custody, divorce and separation, and more. We understand the challenges of maintaining a positive relationship with a former spouse, and our family lawyers are available to provide guidance and clarity for a variety of situations.
Below are seven guidelines for parents who are divorced or separated and are sharing custody of their children amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
1 – Be Healthy
One of the most important steps in keeping you and your family safe during this uncertain time is to understand and comply with all guidelines set in place by the CDC and your local leadership. Your children will be looking to you for guidance on how to act during this time. Be healthy in your actions, and be sure to follow suggestions to model good behavior for your family. Follow guidelines for proper hand washing, disinfection of surfaces and other objects that are frequently touched, and proper social distancing. It will fall on you to stay in the loop on best practices moving forward to keep you and your children safe and healthy.
It can be too easy to get swept in the panic of things and forget to do routine tasks such as proper dieting and hydration, so be sure to take the time to create a plan for your meals and prepare wholesome meals to promote healthy living for the whole family.
2 – Be Mindful
As the parent, it will fall on you to be honest about the seriousness of this pandemic while retaining a calm demeanor. There is a lot of uncertainty right now, making it very important to be mindful in all that you do. Avoid making careless comments that your children may internalize, and be sure to limit their exposure to mainstream media. One example given by the family lawyers is leaving the news on the screen 24/7. It can be too easy to get caught up in the paranoia and fear people are experiencing. Take the time to discuss the seriousness of the situation and your expectations of the future, and encourage your children to ask questions if they are concerned or confused about anything.
3 – Be Compliant
(With Court Orders and Custody Agreements)
Despite the unusual circumstances, it is suggested to avoid reinventing the wheel as much as possible. You will be expected to comply with your custody agreement, which is in place to prevent endless haggling over the finer details of timesharing. Review your court orders to ensure that you are compliant with all orders. Some jurisdictions enforce standing mandates that keep custody agreements in place should school be closed down. Read through your custody agreement to avoid surprises!
4 – Be Creative
Challenge promotes creativity, and now is the time for you and your family to get creative. Many parents are found at home with their kids and no form of work while others have to work overtime to stay ahead of the crisis. Regardless of your situation, it’s important to get creative to overcome the restrictions on travel and social gatherings. Be sure to plan some quality time for your children and the parent who is not seeing the kids, including shared books, movies, and games, as well as video apps to stay in touch.
5 – Be Transparent
You and your co-parent are a team in raising your children, and during this time, it is important to be as transparent as possible in creating plans for how to proceed to keep your kids safe. Discuss what steps will be taken if your child is positive for COVID-19 in the future, as well as proactive tasks to protect them from exposure. If you or the other parent suspects that your child is sick or may have been exposed to the virus, it is essential to relay that information.
6 – Be Generous
These are extenuating circumstances, and extra steps should be taken to preserve compassion and respect for each parent in the relationship. Take steps to allow the other parent to make up for missed quality time. Keep in mind that family law judges will expect reasonable accommodations to be made, especially during unusual circumstances such as this. If one parent proves to be very inflexible during this period, the judge may bring this into their decision-making process in future filings.
7 – Be Understanding
During these hard times, nearly everyone is facing new economic and social hardships. In situations like this, it is important to be understanding and patient with the other parent. When it comes to child support and economic hardship, the payor should try to provide a helpful amount, and the payee will need to accommodate the changing situation as best they can. This is a challenging period for everyone, and we’re all in this together.
Adversity can put serious strain on your co-parent dynamic, but remember that this situation is an opportunity to set the right example for your children. If you can put aside your differences and frustrations to create a collaborative effort to best serve your children, they will remember the sacrifices and efforts. Parenting is always a team effort, and should be the driving focus during this tough time.
Contact Our Family Law Firm
Peek Goldstone is here to serve as your trusted family lawyers in Greeley and Erie, and we’re here to support you through this tough time. During the COVID-19 closures, we are available virtually through telephone and video conferencing services. Contact us today for assistance!
Guidelines created by and sourced from the leaders of groups that deal with families in crisis:
- Susan Myres, President of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML)
- Dr. Matt Sullivan, President of Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)
- Annette Burns, AAML and Former President of AFCC
- Yasmine Mehmet, AAML
- Kim Bonuomo, AAML
- Nancy Kellman, AAML
- Dr. Leslie Drozd, AFCC
- Dr. Robin Deutsch, AFCC
- Jill Peña, Executive Director of AAML
- Peter Salem, Executive Director of AFCC