For divorced or separated families, co-parenting can be challenging during the best of times. During a global pandemic, families are discovering that the routines they’ve established to keep their children safe and on track have been thrown out the window.
If there was already stress in the relationship between you and your child’s other parent, the events of the past nine months have likely compounded those issues. Here are a few common challenges that we’ve seen arise between co-parents and some possible solutions.
Co-Parenting Challenges Due to COVID-19
In a perfect world, everyone gets along and takes care of their obligations. But, our current situation is far from perfect, and many parents in co-parenting arrangements are struggling. During the pandemic, you may have some concerns about following existing custody and visitation orders as well as payments for support. Some common issues include:
- The other parent is an essential worker, and you’re worried about exposing your child.
- The other parent has tested positive for COVID-19 and you don’t want to allow visitation.
- The other parent has been furloughed or is out of work due to the pandemic and is unable to meet support obligations.
- The other parent is being careless or reckless and you’re worried about your child being exposed to COVID-19.
- The other parent is refusing to allow you to see your children out of fear of the virus.
- The other parent isn’t helping your child keep up with distance learning requirements.
How to Deal with Co-Parenting Conflicts During COVID-19
Many of these concerns are justified, with one or both parents trying to place the needs of their children first. What parents are being asked to do right now is hard, but court orders related to child custody, visitation, and support payments remain in place. And those provisions rarely allow one parent to dictate a new schedule or stop paying support.
If you and your child’s other parent are facing any of these issues, here are some guidelines to help you resolve them:
- Try to work together to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of your child. This might involve adjusting your visitation schedule in the short-term until the present risks subside. If you do modify your agreement, put your terms in writing.
- If you are unable to negotiate an agreement directly with your co-parent, avoid violating an existing court order. Instead, contact a family law attorney to discuss your situation.
- If you believe that your children are in danger, your attorney can seek an ex parte order to provide emergency relief.
- If the other parent is withholding child support or visitation, your attorney can file a contempt action to enforce the terms of your existing arrangements.
- Finally, either parent can file a request to modify the terms of custody and visitation or support agreement.
When you created your custody, child support, and parent agreement, no one thought we’d be dealing with a global health crisis in 2020 and beyond. If you are facing any of these co-parenting challenges due to COVID-19 or something else has come up that you aren’t sure how to handle, you need an experienced Washington family law attorney in your corner.
Contact AB Law in Tacoma, Washington today. We offer free consultations and will happy to explain your options.