Even in the best of times, it may be hard for divorced or separated people to juggle their responsibilities under a court-ordered co-parenting plan. The coronavirus pandemic has amplified the challenge, adding even more stress to parents’ and children’s lives and making it more difficult to comply with terms of visitation.
During these abnormal times, parents may have such questions as:
- Do I have to follow a co-parenting agreement if I think my ex is showing symptoms of coronavirus?
- What happens to child support if one of us gets laid off?
- What happens if I can’t comply with a co-parenting schedule?
Here are a few general tips to help you be a more effective co-parent while we all try to get through the COVID-19 situation.
First, the key word is flexibility. Everyone’s routines have been thrown into chaos. Kids are being home schooled, some parents are working from home and some parents have lost their jobs. Kids feel the stress, even if they don’t really say so. Try to do everything you can to accommodate your ex-spouse’s situation during the crisis, working together to find practical solutions without causing excess conflict. Of course, if your ex is abusive or destructive in some way, that’s a different situation that requires you to act accordingly.
If a parent loses a job, be understanding and willing to discuss modifying child support. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs or otherwise seeing their incomes reduced. Try to come to a temporary agreement on payments to get you through the crisis. A qualified family law attorney can review a document you prepare or create a modification for you. Keep in mind, if you think you need to go to court to modify support, it could be difficult. King County and Pierce County courts are only considering emergency issues during the pandemic.
Be willing to make different parenting time arrangements if needed. With parents working at home and kids needing home schooling, can be hard to keep up with preset schedules. You may benefit from working out temporary revisions to allow each of you a few child-free days to catch up on work. If needed, seek your lawyer’s guidance in designing or reviewing an amended schedule.
At the end of the day, co-parents must understand that a health crisis isn’t the time to fight. It’s a time to compromise, adapt and work together for the sake of your children. If you have a co-parenting concern that you’d like to discuss, the lawyers of Bottimore & Associates, P.L.L.C., in Tacoma, are available. Call us at 253-272-5653 or contact us online.