Are you a single parent who is co-parenting one or more minor children with your ex-spouse? How are you managing shared custody and visitation rights, during the highly stressful times caused by the pandemic, COVID-19 that is currently sweeping across the world?
It is proving challenging for both children and adults to adapt to the social distancing, stay-at-home requirements, as mandated by 99% of the US states. Some states like Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia have started opening up again, and state governments are allowing some businesses to open. However, this is likely to force the numbers of active infections, and even deaths up.
Therefore, social distancing will continue for the foreseeable future. The challenge that the world’s foremost scientists and medical professionals have is that no one knows how this coronavirus behaves. And not only is this fact causing stress and anxiety amongst the adults living in these states, but it is also impacting negatively on the children.
One of the only known ways to combat this virus is social isolation or social distancing. We are social beings; therefore, isolating from other people for long periods of time is causing untold psychological harm. Sujata Gupta, in her article titled, “Social distancing comes with psychological fallout”, highlights the fact that mental health “experts warn prolonged isolation during the pandemic may worsen or trigger mental health problems.”
Therefore, it is vital to manage the child custody and visitation rights of both parents with the care and attention it deserves. Your children’s emotional and mental health is possible at risk during these stressful times. Here are several tips to help you make both your lives and your children’s lives easier as they shuttle between homes.
Discuss amended custody and visitation rights amicably
As the West Columbia divorce attorney notes, custody and visitation arrangements might have to change, depending the state lockdown requirements as well as the physical and mental health needs of both parents and the children.
It is possible to make these interim arrangements without having to go back to the family court for an interim order. However, if both parents can’t negotiate temporary arrangements without fighting, a trip to the family court for an emergency order will be necessary.
Don’t fight with each other
It is crucial to be reasonable in your communications with, and expectations of, your ex-spouse. Children do not like to watch their parents fighting under normal circumstances. But the added stresses and anxieties that children feel as a result of COVID-19 make this point much worse for the kids.
While both parents have equal rights and access to the children, it might not be practical for individual children to spend 50% of their time with each parent during the lockdown. One of the challenges with social distancing is that every time someone goes out to the shops or work, they run the risk of bringing the virus back home. And, this poses a serious challenge for high-risk children and adults.
Therefore, under these circumstances, it is probably better for the children to stay with the one parent and to communicate via social media and video chats with the other parent regularly.