Five Tips for Co-Parenting During a Pandemic

For just about 10 months now, we have been living through unprecedented times. Most businesses are still closed or operating with restrictions, some schools are still remote, and life overall really hasn’t gone back to “normal,” as many expected it would have by now.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many families have discovered that previously stable arrangements may not be able to withstand the stresses created by these changes. Divorce rates have skyrocketed. And for previously divorced families whose co-parenting and custody arrangements were already contentious, these changes may be intensifying conflicts and creating new ones.

While a crisis like this can certainly be stressful, it can also be a good time for both parents to overcome their differences and work together. Here are some tips for co-parenting during a pandemic:

  1. Stay Informed and In Touch

Because there is so much uncertainty that comes with a pandemic, it’s crucial that both parents stay informed. Parents should periodically check official state and local websites, making sure that they are up to date on COVID-19 guidelines. Parents should also check their child’s school website frequently, taking note of any closures or schedule changes that may be happening.

It’s also essential that both parents keep communication open as much as possible throughout the pandemic. Parents are understandably nervous for the health and safety of themselves and their child. Keeping the other parent in-the-loop and answering their calls, texts, or emails in a timely manner can help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety. If you or your child are feeling sick, or if you think you or your child may have been exposed to COVID-19, be up front with the other parent and let them know immediately.

  1. Follow Your Parenting Plan and Talk Through Possible Schedule Changes

Parents should continue to comply with existing parenting time orders as much as possible. Failure to comply with court-ordered parenting time may lead to being held in contempt of court.

In certain circumstances, however, it may not be possible or realistic to comply with existing parenting time orders. Perhaps one parent lives in another state, has a compromised immune system, or is an essential worker. Maybe one parent is actually sick with COVID-19 or has been exposed to the virus. In circumstances like those, it may be in the best interest of your child to be flexible and renegotiate custody and visitation schedules.

Parents should use common sense to navigate these difficult circumstances. While the idea of seeing your child less may be upsetting, understand that the pandemic will not last forever. It’s okay to make modifications to your parenting plan in times of crisis to do what’s best for your child.

If parents need to temporarily make changes to their visitation schedule for whatever reason, consider using technology to maintain communication and interaction between the parent and child as much as possible. Emails and text messages are quick and efficient, and there are even court-approved apps (such as ourfamilywizard.com) that make communication between parents easier and less contentious. Parents should also try to agree on a make-up schedule for lost in-person parenting time.

If parenting time hasn’t changed for your family, consider creating a backup plan in case it needs to. Talk about what would happen in the event one parent gets sick or is exposed; the child gets sick or is exposed; school closes again; etc. This way, if something happens, you’ll already have a plan.

  1. Talk to Your Child

Check in with your child! They are living through intense periods of change and uncertainty, and that can be really difficult for them. Be there for them. Understand that there are varied ways children deal with stress and anxiety. Listen to their concerns and be supportive and empathetic. Make sure not to give them too much information about court cases or parental disputes. And be careful not to bad mouth the other parent to your children. They need permission to love you both.

Now is the time to try to be the best parent you can under the circumstances. Reassure your child that we will get through this, that some changes are only temporary, and most importantly, that they are loved and cared for.

  1. Take Care of You

Co-parenting during a pandemic can be exhausting. While you probably feel like you are focusing most of your attention on your child’s needs, don’t forget to practice a little self-care. Take a little time for yourself each day, even if it’s just a few minutes to meditate, do yoga, or take a bath.

Get help if you need it. If you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, consider counseling or therapy. Support from a mental health professional can really help. Working these issues out can allow parents to better care for their families.

Most importantly, be compassionate with yourself. You are human and you are living through unprecedented times. It can certainly be hard at times, but you can and will get through it.

  1. Figure Out What Works Best for You!

“Different strokes for different folks,” as they say! There is no correct way to co-parent during a pandemic. Work with your ex to figure out what works best for you both, and your child. This pandemic is a perfect opportunity for co-parents to come together and make decisions in the best interest of the child they both love.

By: Logan Matura

 

 

At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar ,is a highly-skilled attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhatten, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Our firm handles Family Law cases in the areas of divorce, custody (now called “Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time), relocation (move-away), division of property, spousal and child support, modification actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today at 602-383-3610; or you can contact us by email through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.   We look forward to hearing from you.

There’s A “Bright Side” To This Pandemic – Seriously!

 

Downtown Phoenix by sunset

In case you’re living under a rock, the whole world, including our country, has been taken over by COVID-19, better known as coronavirus. This virus came crashing down, in what felt like the blink of an eye, and it has altered how we live, how we think, and how we interact with our loved ones. The way we grocery shop has changed. The way we greet neighbors has changed. The way we celebrate holidays, the way we run our businesses, and the way we practice law have all changed.

It has been drastic for some, but the impact is being felt by all. Some are living in constant panic, while others believe it to be an overreaction. Some of our lives have been turned upside down by this new way of living, while others are angered that they are living in restriction. No matter how you feel, or what you believe to be right, one thing is certain: we can all choose to look on the bright side of this pandemic.

We are being forced to slow down. What’s the bright side? You finally have time to breathe. Life is full of chaos and stress, even without a pandemic. Many of us live our whole lives in a stressed state of mind, which leads to physical illness and overall lack of enjoyment of life. Pre-pandemic, if you wanted to slow down, you might have been criticized for being lazy. Now is an opportunity, without any judgment, to be slow, be present, be grateful, and breathe.

We are being forced to change the way we work. What’s the bright side? We are making significant modern-day changes to an old-time profession. Most attorneys do not work from home. Most attorneys do not videoconference their clients. Most attorneys are not cloud based. In a world where traveling the county and printing more paper than you can carry is on most of our job descriptions, these over-due changes may be the start of something new, and efficient, for our profession even after the pandemic has passed.

We are being forced to spend time with ourselves. What’s the bright side? You finally have the time to think about what actually makes you happy, what doesn’t make you happy, and to adjust your life accordingly. Before the pandemic, we took many things for granted. We made commitments we did not want to make, we spent time with people we did not want to spend time with, and many of us (especially if you are an attorney) put ourselves at the bottom of our priority list. Now is the time to make the change. Make self-care a priority. Make yourself a priority.

We are spending more time with our families. We are going outside for exercise instead of the gym. We are putting less pollution in the air. We are focusing more on our health. We are learning new things. We are reading more books. Some of us are undoubtedly living better lives.

This does not mean we are living at the expense of others. Those that have lost their lives due to this virus, and any virus or disease for that matter, are loved, respected, and remembered always. And what better way to honor those that have lost their lives than to appreciate and implement the knowledge, growth, and positive changes that came along with the loss?

This is still a pandemic. There is still great concern of what is happening in our world. And there is still the choice to be positive. There is always a bright side. And you can choose to ignore it if you want. But imagine how you can transform yourself, your happiness, and your way of life during these unprecedented times.

Hanna Amar

 

Hanna Amar is a partner at the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C.  Both Gary Frank and Hanna Amar are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Hanna Amar is a highly-skilled attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna is the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association.  Our firm handles Family Law cases in the areas of divorce, custody (now called “Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time), relocation (move-away), division of property, spousal and child support, modification actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and non-parent rights, and all other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today at 602-383-3610; or you can contact us by email through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.   We look forward to hearing from you.

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