Parenting Skilled Outlines Suggestions For Sharing Custody Throughout The Pandemic

Managing a divorce with children is difficult enough. Now a global pandemic is emerging and parents face new challenges when it comes to protecting their children and themselves.

Many parents wonder if it is safe for children to travel back and forth between houses. How do I know if my children are safe with the other parent or friends of the other parent? Does the plan change if someone gets sick?

Some even went to court to clarify these issues. In April, a Washington state judge ruled that a woman would indefinitely see her children because her ex-husband was concerned that her job as a nurse was putting her at risk.

However, experts say these disputes shouldn’t even get that far. Parents should negotiate with one another before bringing their issues to court, says Dr. Jann Blackstone, a retired child custody mediator for the California Supreme Court and co-author of Co-Parenting Through Separation and Divorce: Putting Your Children First.

“The reality is that joint custody is not going to go away. Co-parenting is not going to go away, COVID or not, and you still need to negotiate and negotiate in the best interests of your child, “she says. “You can do what you want as long as it keeps people safe.”

Parents need to understand that the pandemic won’t last forever and it’s okay to make changes to the parenting plan in times of crisis, Blackstone says. Temporary changes to custody arrangements are unlikely to be permanent.

It’s about changing attitudes towards co-parenting in general, she says.

“If you can show firsthand how to negotiate in front of your child, the child will feel safe walking back and forth,” she says. “But if you play tug of war in front of your child in a crisis, you only add to the stress that child is struggling with because they live in two houses.”

Disagreements about wearing masks or getting vaccinations are no different from disputes over whether a child can ride on the back of a motorcycle, Blackstone says. And if you cannot solve these problems yourself, the courts intervene.

“But I can tell you firsthand that the courts don’t want to raise your children,” she says. “They want you to step back and make the decision about your babies.”

Once they agree, parents can make temporary changes to the custody agreement by writing a new contract, Blackstone explains.

For example, the contract can read: “We, the parents of Billy, are deciding during this COVID pandemic that he will stay with mom from Monday to Friday and with dad from Friday to Monday. And when this pandemic is over, we will resume the previous parenting plan from that date. “

Many parents tell Blackstone they never want to go to court to resolve custody issues again, she says. If parents can keep lines of communication open and aren’t afraid of losing their child, they don’t have to go to court, she says.

“I often tell parents that the only one who loves this child as much as you do is the other parent, and your child has the right to be with you two,” she says. “So put your heads together and find out. It is your responsibility to your child to make it as easy as possible.”

Marcelle Hutchins produced and edited this interview for air with Tinku Ray. Samantha Raphelson customized it for the web.

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