Co-Parenting In A Pandemic

Co-parenting can be challenging in the best of situations…. then in walks a pandemic. The last year has presented challenges in custody schedules, changes in school and work, financial difficulties, and upended our sense of balance in a myriad of ways. We have seen a rise in domestic violence, substance use, and mental health problems, all of which, in some cases, have contributed to a rise in divorce rates.

For those who have decided to divorce, there is always unchartered territory, and to navigate divorce and co-parenting in a pandemic has been increasingly difficult. Co-parents have disagreed about what COVID precautions to take, what medical decisions to make, and the level of acceptable risk associated with COVID. For example, as schools have reopened, parents have had to decide if they will send their children back to in-person learning or remain virtual. This school decision alone has sent families to court to have a judge make the decision for the family.

While going to court can be necessary in some cases, it is expensive and can negatively impact families. The court process is stressful to children and parents as it often increases angst and frustration between co-parents. Involving the courts also takes away some of your decision-making ability as a parent. When a Judge makes a decision, it is based on limited information that can be presented in a limited amount of time, and the Judge very rarely meets the children.

Parents can maintain control of their decision-making abilities through attorney collaboration, mediation, and co-parenting services. If you are able to work together to find a solution through a pandemic, this will serve you well for future co-parenting decisions.

  • First…remember to breathe and give grace and patience to yourself and your co-parent.
  • Anxiety and fear related to COVID-19 is NOT a reason to deny the other parent their custodial time or otherwise not honor an existing custody order or parenting agreement.
  • Do not make unilateral decisions when it impacts the children. Co-parenting by definition is a two-person process.
  • Let go of angst and contentious behavior towards your co-parent, it only makes compromising and decision-making together more challenging.
  • Agree to have a child-focused motto and think about how your decision regarding the other parent may negatively impact your child/children.
  • Technology has been used to its full potential during this time and can provide virtual opportunities (virtual game night/movie night/bake cookies, etc.) for parents and children to have time together if being with a parent is not an option for a time (e.g., parent quarantined, unable to travel, etc.).
  • Make a family co-parenting plan for future emergencies taking into account things you learned from the past year that can help in making future family co-parenting decisions.
  • Take the time to reflect on the past year. Are there things you, as a co-parent, could have handled differently that you can decide to do differently moving forward? Are there things you used to feel were important that dealing with COVID has allowed you to let go in view of the bigger picture?

Interested in working on your co-parenting relationship?
Contact lisa@kkjpsych.com to discuss your co-parenting options.

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We know it's not always easy to ask for help.
But sometimes talking with a compassionate, insightful professional can provide answers and clarity.

We know it's not always easy to ask for help. But sometimes talking with a compassionate, insightful professional can provide answers and clarity.