Divorce and Co-Parenting During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Divorce is a fact of life. It’s one that most of us would like to avoid, of course, but that’s not always possible. While in the past divorce was somewhat hidden and treated with shame, making it even harder to deal with on both a practical and emotional level, in this day and age divorce is less taboo. While it may seem like a groundbreaking issue that could permanently harm your family, in reality, a divorce is nothing more than a dissolution of a marriage. This can actually be better for your family in the long term, as a couple that stays together for practical or financial reasons while not getting along can cause a family a lot of stress.

Of course, there are a lot of issues that come with divorce, and they’re only exacerbated by the pandemic, which has slowed down the process for many. Furthermore, some are putting off divorce purely because of the pandemic and the financial stresses it has placed on households. While this is understandable, it nonetheless can ultimately make it much more difficult for the divorce to be accomplished in the long term. Today, we’re focusing on divorce during the pandemic, and especially how to handle co-parenting during the pandemic. As with any divorce, the more that you research and prepare, the more capable you will be of handling the issue in a timely manner, and with as little emotional pain for you and your family as possible.

Prepare For Schedule Disruptions

Normally, divorce and co-parenting would involve adhering to a schedule. Many parents that share equal custody are encouraged to split time in a “one week on, one week off” schedule, wherein the child will spend every other week with each parent. But it can be much more difficult to do this in a post-pandemic world. For one thing, areas that are moving in and out of lockdown may have requirements that make it difficult for parents to move their kids from one household to the other in a regular fashion. Indeed, one parent’s home may be more suitable for lockdown than the other’s. In many states, children are being required to go to virtual school for at least part of the semester. Therefore, they need a strong internet connection and the necessary accompanying technology. If a parent lives more out in the countryside, they may not have a strong enough internet connection to attend the zoom meetings necessary for virtual school.

Another aspect to consider, of course, is whether or not both parents live in areas that follow proper pandemic precautions. One county may require masks, where the other may not. Parents should discuss what they are comfortable with, and be honest about what they think is healthy. Of course, if disagreements do arise, parents can refer to their children’s pediatricians to settle them. Ultimately, the health of the children should take priority over posturing and hurt feelings.

Be Prepared To Renegotiate Custody Agreements

The pandemic has forced us to reconsider almost every aspect of our lives. Whereas it once would have made sense for you and your ex to have perfectly equal custody, the problems mentioned above may force you to reconsider. Therefore, you should consider the possibility that you may have to at least temporarily renegotiate your custody agreement. Ideally, you should do this through a mediator. But as we all know, it can be difficult for custody negotiations to work out ideally. In preparation for issues occurring with the process, you may want to get in touch with a divorce or custody attorney. An estimated 43% of all Tennessee residents go through a hard divorce; for them, it’s essential that they have an experienced family lawyer advocating them.

Part of what needs to be altered in the custody agreement, of course, is what constitutes risky behavior. Whereas before it may not have seemed like an issue for parents to introduce new people to their children in a timely manner, now we have to consider the fact that new acquaintances may carry the COVID-19 virus. Furthermore, traveling out of state or taking your child to a birthday party may no longer be feasible. The reason why it’s important to have a family law attorney present during these negotiations is that many parents get divorced due to an inability to agree on issues. An Insider Survey reports that too much disagreement is the third most common reason for divorce. That issue isn’t going to suddenly resolve after your divorce.

Work On Your Relationship Post-Divorce

On that subject, it’s important for you to continue to work on your relationship with your ex post-divorce, especially if you share children. The pandemic is going to place a lot of stress on you both. The last thing you want is to further make that an issue due to your poor relationship, and for that matter cause problems for your children as well. Therefore, it may be a good idea to start going to therapy in order to better your co-parenting skills, with a special focus on co-parenting conditions following the pandemic.

Understandably, divorced exes would ideally like to see as little of each other as possible. But when you have children together, that’s not really an option, and communication is key following COVID-19. Therefore, you may want to think of that therapy not so much as couples counseling as co-parent counseling and move forward with it. This isn’t necessarily meant for you, but for your family as a whole.

The pandemic is hard to deal with in general, and it’s only going to become harder if you’re getting divorced and co-parenting at the same time. There are a lot of problems that come with divorce, but if the two of you manage to navigate the pandemic together successfully, that can be seen as a win. Don’t let your personal problems keep you from handling this issue as a unit, keeping your family safe, healthy, and happy.

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