Whether you are in the middle of a divorce or your divorce is behind you, co-parenting can be stressful under the best of circumstances. Right now, with the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the globe co-parenting can seem like walking through a minefield. We are all in unchartered territory. Nevertheless, Fort Worth divorce attorney Jon Boyd offers some guidance on co-parenting during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In just one short month, reality changed dramatically for most Americans. In fact, most Americans have been asked to do something that would have sounded inconceivable just a few weeks ago – stay home. As the fatalities mount, most Americans are following guidelines that include social distancing, remaining home except to accomplish essential errands, and wearing masks and gloves when they must leave the house. All of this is done in the hope that they do not become another statistic in the Covid-19 pandemic. As surreal and disconcerting as all of this is, it can be even more difficult when you are trying to co-parent a child during, or after, a divorce.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a considerable amount of anxiety for everyone; however, that anxiety can be heightened if you are worried that your child’s other parent has tested positive for the virus or is at high risk for contracting the virus. You may also be worried if you doubt the other parent’s commitment to following the CDC guidelines and/or to otherwise keep your child safe during the pandemic. Your concerns may bring up many questions, such as:
Do I have to abide by the possession and access schedule during the pandemic?
Can I refuse to allow my child to see his/her other parent if I have a valid concern?
What do I do if the other parent tests positive?
Will I get in trouble for trying to protect my child?
What do I do if I lost my job and cannot pay child support right now?
The reality is that there are no easy, nor certain, answers to many of these questions given that the circumstances surrounding them are new and unique. There are, however, some general guidelines to keep in mind when trying to navigate your co-parenting concerns during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As a parent, your child’s health and safety is undoubtedly your primary concern. What can you do if you are worried that your child’s other parent tested positive for Covid-19 or is exhibiting symptoms of the virus? Can you deny him/her time with your child? Will you face negative consequences if you violate the court’s orders regarding possession and access with your child? Consider the following guidelines when faced with these questions:
Make an effort to communicate. Even if you don’t have the best relationship with your ex, make an effort to communicate right now. Express concerns you may have about the virus and/or about the CDC guidelines. Try to reach an agreement that avoids conflicts and future litigation.
Do what is in the best interest of the child. Under normal circumstances, denying access to your child would indeed subject you to sanctions by the court. Under the current circumstances, however, things are much less clear. Ultimately, all decisions regarding a minor child must be made using the “best interest of the child” standard. At some point, any action you take now may be litigated, and when it is, you will need to convince a judge that it was in your child’s best interest.
Put any changes in writing. If you decide to make any temporary changes to your possession and access schedule and/or you agree to a temporary reduction in child support, make sure you put those changes in writing.
Consult with an attorney. Although it may not be possible to get a court hearing right now to resolve your concerns, it is wise to consult with an experienced divorce attorney if you are worried or are experiencing problems related to co-parenting during the Covid-19 pandemic. Your attorney can evaluate your specific concerns and may be able to offer additional suggestions and/or mediate any disputes that arise.
If you are experiencing problems or you have concerns related to co-parenting during the Covid-19 pandemic, contact an experienced Fort Worth divorce attorney at Boyd Family Law to schedule your appointment today.