Should I Exchange Custody with My Co-Parent During COVID-19?
Co-parents around the world are grappling with the same question: “With social distancing, quarantine, and shelter-in-place orders being mandated in my area, should I still drop my kids off with my co-parent?”
Talking Parents users and co-parents around the world are grappling with the same question: “With social distancing and shelter-in-place orders being mandated in my area, should I still drop my kids off with my co-parent?”
The answer here is not a simple yes or no because there are so many factors at play. We have explored How to Explain COVID-19 to your Kids and Reaching Out in Your Community During COVID-19. In our blog COVID-19 and Co-Parenting we explored possible situations that co-parents should consider and online resources that may help.
Read the Governments’ Orders
Start by reading the orders and guidance that have been published by your local government and health departments. Even the New York on PAUSE and Shelter in Place in California (based on the information found at the time of publishing) have concessions that include custody orders as necessary travel.
In places that have determined custody exchanges are necessary travel, you could be putting yourself in contempt of your custody by withholding your child if there is no other reason. If there are additional factors to consider, you need to speak to your lawyer and to your co-parent to figure out the best possible solution to keep your children safe and healthy.
Unique Situations to Think About
Every co-parenting situation is different and should be considered separately, not based on something that is working for another family.
If you or your co-parent have a job that does not allow you to work from home, you may need to reconsider who will be responsible for homeschooling the children during the day. Another thing that could be a factor is the distance between you and your co-parent’s homes. If they require crossing state lines or any air travel, custody exchanges may be more challenging.
If you or someone in your family is ill or immunocompromised, or anyone begins showing symptoms of COVID-19, it is your responsibility to communicate openly with your co-parent.
Agree on the Details with Your Co-Parent
If you decide to continue adhering to your regular custody schedule, discuss the limitations and protocols you want to set in place. Determine the boundaries of what social distancing means to each parent, how you plan to clean each child’s spaces, and to encourage hand washing as much as possible.
Every lawyer and legal official is repeating the same message: Document, document, document. While COVID-19 is currently creating a difficult situation and co-parents are dealing with it the best they can, there may be building tension or differences in parenting plans that are taking place.
If the children spend an extra few days at your house, those nights need to be noted as they could impact child support, parenting plans, and future court orders.
Talking Parents has a Free plan that includes access to the TalkingParents.com website. Records can be ordered if needed as a PDF or a certified printed copy. Using the Messaging feature, co-parents can notate their agreements and also use the shared Calendar to document any changes to a regular custody schedule.
Speak to a Professional
Every situation is unique and you need to speak to your lawyer and to your co-parent to figure out the best possible solution to keep your children safe and healthy.