The Top 7 Considerations for Child Custody Agreements in the Age of COVID-19
Parenting can be hard especially in the age of COVID-19. Parents who are separated and have joint custody of their child have it even harder.
There are more things to take into consideration when it comes to custody agreements. This new normal has no known end in sight, so it is better to be on the same page about the virus.
Children are the primary focus for parents, but now more than ever parents are with their children more. This will change a lot of things, including custody agreements. Sharing child custody is important and should be a prime focus because of COVID-19.
The challenge now with parents who share joint custody is ensuring each parent is staying healthy and safe, and of course, making sure their child is too. Child custody can be a tricky path to follow in these uncertain days.
Here are seven considerations for child custody agreements in the age of COVID-19:
1. Minimize Handoffs
No one wants to spend too much time away from their child, but minimizing handoffs could be a great option for parents sharing joint custody. This could make it safer for everyone in terms of contracting the virus.
Depending on the custody agreements already set in place, this may not be an issue for you and the other parent. If you frequently handoff your child, it would be a good idea to agree about minimizing the handoffs.
When you are doing a custody exchange it is important to follow some guidelines because of COVID-19. These guidelines could include:
- Washing your hands before and after
- Not bringing a third party
- Choosing a safe and clean place for an exchange
- Practice social distancing (6 feet apart)
2. Setup Agreed Upon Rules for Sanitation
Following sanitation rules to prevent getting the virus only works if both parents are doing them. It is important to have set rules in place for both parties when it comes to sanitation. This will keep the child in place and themselves.
Following these rules when the child is present is the most important part, but the rules should be continued to be followed when the child is not with you. This will not only cause routine but will keep you healthy as possible for when your child is back.
Some rules to teach your children and routinely do are:
- Cleaning your hands often
- Avoiding anyone who is sick
- Practice social distancing when around others
- Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly
- Wear masks if you have to go out
3. Agree on an Emergency Plan
An emergency plan should be set in place for if someone does test positive for COVID-19. It’s better to plan for the possibility than to run into it without knowing how to handle the situation. Agree on a plan for if you, your child, or your child’s other parent gets sick.
If you have sole custody or joint custody, the order may already address what to do if one or both parents get sick. This goes for when they are sick enough not to be able to take care of the child.
Even if your custody agreement does address this, these weird circumstances mean you should still reach out to the other parent. The custody agreement may not cover a circumstance of illness. If this is the case, reach out right away.
More importantly, discuss what would happen if your child was the one who became ill. Discuss who would stay home with your child or if you would continue doing handoffs. Get the important questions covered.
4. School Closures
Schools have been closed for the time being which means the kids are at home more than usual. Your custody order may cover parenting time during school closures.
Schools have moved into online learning and both parents need to be involved in this. Not having a teacher may make it hard for the child to learn and finish school work. Be ready to help and make sure that all work is still completed.
The best thing you can do in this circumstance is to communicate. Reach out to your child’s other partner to keep each other updated on school work responsibilities.
5. Don’t Have Visitors
Even if someone may be sure that they don’t have the virus, they may have been exposed and not having symptoms. It’s better not to have outside visitors during this time for the safety of your child.
If possible, have both parties agree to this term. If this is an issue, at least minimize the number of people you are surrounded with.
6. Be Compliant With Court Orders and Custody Agreements
This is a difficult time for everyone. Not being compliant with court orders and custody agreements can make this time even harder.
Be compliant as much as possible. These orders are set in place to prevent more issues when it comes to custody. Some jurisdictions even have orders mandating that if schools are closed, custody agreements should remain in place as if school was still in session.
7. Creativity and Fun
Creativity and fun are a major part of a person’s mental health, including a child’s. Keeping creativity and fun alive is an important consideration during these times.
There are no amusement parks, museums, public parks, etc. to keep your child busy with. Planning activities at home should be an everyday thing.
It is also right to encourage closeness with the other parent who may not be seeing the child as much due to COVID-19. This includes sharing books, movies, games, and a lot of FaceTime.
You Can Do This!
Times are tough, but you can do this! Communication is the most important key to being on the same page when it comes to custody agreements during the COVID-19 crisis.
Keeping you and your child healthy during this time is a must, but make sure both parents are doing so. Always practice social distancing and other prevention of the virus.