Tensions are high and we are now living in a world where things are changing by the hour. It was only a week or so ago that you could go to the store, and it was simply recommended that you keep a distance from people. Fast forward to today, and everyone at Costco seems to be carrying a tape measure. In this ever changing and unpredictable world, many parents are concerned about how the coronavirus and the new world we are all living in will affect their parenting schedule.
There is not one clear answer. The first step is to take a step back and think about what would be in the best interest of your children during this time. Take a look at your parenting agreement and see if there are any pressing or upcoming scheduling issues that need to be addressed now. It is important to get ahead of the situation and try to deal with it in advance, so an appropriate accommodation may be reached.
Adjusting schedules can be difficult especially with a difficult co-parent, but with the right mind frame and presentation and focus on the children, you and your co-parent might just be able to get through this difficult time. Think about how you might adjust the parenting to fit your new “reality.” Think about your children first and foremost. Virtual dinners are a great way for children to stay connected and maintain a level of normalcy, and to establish face-to-face contact and interaction with a parent or even a grandparent during this time. If a midweek dinner, even virtually, doesn’t work, it might be more advantageous to both parents to add those dinner hours on the start or end of an overnight. Be creative, be adaptable and be open to change.
Since basketball practice and ballet lessons are on pause, these time-slots now must be filled, and it is important for your children that something is scheduled. Working out a plan or activity schedule for these times (either in person or virtually) will help children stick to their schedules and guarantee parents time with the kids.
With parents working from home and kids learning from home, it might make sense to adjust a schedule that exchanges during the day, instead of at dinner/evening, so both parents can work. This is a great suggestion for both separated and coupled parents. An exchange after lunch (vs. dinner) can allow for both parents to have a chance at getting some work done during business hours. Reconvening every few days to adjust to any changes that come up will also be key.
Now, more than ever, we must be creative, expert negotiators and use all of the resources we have available to craft (and re-craft) arrangements that work for the situation at hand and the children. Separating and separated parents everywhere are being tested to see how flexible they all really can be. With most courts being closed except for urgent emergency applications – and even then, it’s not certain you will be heard – it is up to the parents to work it out. Your attorney can be a great resource to help navigate these uncharted territories. Another option to consider is working with parenting coordinator or speaking with experts to help make decisions.
Whatever your situation might be, remember that it is the children’s best interests which are top priority. Maintaining a sense of normalcy, positivity and clear headedness will help all of us get through this difficult time. Should you wish to discuss your particular situation in detail, please call Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP at (212) 466-6015, or reach out to us through our contact form today. We maintain offices on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, in White Plains, and in Hackensack, NJ.