Discussions, memes, news reports, and social media are inundated with information about the pandemic. Missing is information for divorced and single parents with custody orders while struggling under Covid-19 and managing parenting time amidst these restrictions. Here are some things you can do to maintain normalcy during this time of health concerns and crisis.
Follow your parenting time orders.
These are the orders you agreed to or the court ordered before the Covid-19 crisis. What is written in the order is what the courts will enforce. Some individuals are questioning the ability of the court to enforce the orders when courts limit the hearings they are handling. Oakland County Circuit Court has issued an emergency order that handles essential matters, including divorce, custody, and parenting time matters, alleging an immediate threat of harm to the children.
If the other parent is denying you parenting time now, find out the reasons for the denial. Is your child sick and needs to be quarantined until the illness is confirmed by medical personnel, or does your child recover? Does your child have a medical issue that makes them immunocompromised, and the other parent is concerned about the child being outside?
Follow your holiday parenting schedules.
Even though it may not be possible to travel to Florida or other Spring Break destinations, continue to follow the holiday parenting order in your parenting time order. The children have been looking forward to this time with the other parent. The Covid-19 crisis is not a reason to deny this parenting time. If it is your holiday this Spring Break and Easter, find alternate activities that keep everyone safe. Perhaps, you can pitch a tent in the backyard, hike in a local park with social distancing maintained and photograph spring happenings, or rent a movie to watch and create your movie theater.
Allow the children to have more contact with the other parent.
The children may be worried about the other parent or family members, particularly grandparents, from the other parent’s side of the family. Allow and encourage your children to FaceTime or video conference with those family members. This is not a time to limit contact with other family members; it can be done virtually. You can sign up for a free Zoom account and schedule designated times for these calls. The children can also record video messages to be sent to family members.
Can we reach an agreement now?
Yes, you can always modify the parenting time agreement for the best interests of your children. Suppose both parents agree that multiple exchanges are not suitable for the children and have worked out a compromise that maintains contact between both parents and the children during this time with minimal interactions with a return to normal parenting time after the crisis passes with some make-up parenting time. In that case, reducing that agreement in writing as a Stipulated Order to be signed by the Judge and filed with the court is the best way to document the agreement and prevent conflict later.
Limit your disagreements in earshot of children.
The normal routine for children has been disrupted. Now is not the time to engage in disagreements in front of children. They will pick up on your anxiety and anger. If you need to have a heated discussion, go outside or try sending it through email or text. Remember that children may access your devices and read these conversations. If you need to save the conversation, consider saving it to a password-protected file.
Solutions available now
The key to managing and following the parenting time orders is communicating with each other about what is best for the children. If you are having difficulties communicating with the other parent, contact an attorney today to assist you. Attorneys across the state are offering alternative means of communicating with their offices outside of coming into a physical office. Ask what the attorney’s firm has available for you to have an initial consult with the attorney. At Melissa Pearce & Associates, we are rolling out several new services and options to help our clients handle parenting time disputes quickly and with minimal court involvement. We are creating a page that places all our Covid-19 information in one space for our clients.
If you need help resolving any parenting time issue during this crisis, contact us or call us at (248) 956-6933. And visit our YouTube channel for more information on co-parenting, communication, and more.