For parents that have a Parenting Agreement or court-ordered time-sharing arrangement in place, sending your kids back and forth between two homes right now isn’t easy, believe me I’m in the same boat as a lot of my clients.
Hopefully, now more than ever you are realizing the importance of communicating effectively with one another and putting your child’s needs first. Managing the current situation is going to require a lot of flexibility, as we all adapt on a daily basis to the constant changes impacting our lives.
A few days ago, Virginia announced schools would remain closed through the rest of the academic year. So far, DC is hoping to resume in May. Just yesterday, Maryland informed all parents of its decision to keep the schools closed through April 24, 2020. As a result of these drastic changes to our children’s normal routine, all separated or divorced parents really need to have a serious conversation about their custody schedules.
Some parents may opt to maintain the regular schedule, while others might decide to tweak their time-sharing arrangement to minimize transitions. No matter what you do, you need to be on the same page and put it in writing.
If you don’t think you can talk to your former partner in a calm and rational way, then reach out to a family therapist, mediator or parenting coach, who can help you navigate through this crisis. These are experts, who are available to facilitate a discussion between parents that might be at an impasse with respect to a major decision affecting their children.
The bottom line is your kids need stability and clarity, especially now more than ever. You need to put your feelings aside about your ex, and address this issue head-on: what schedule are you going to follow for the next few weeks, including limits on screen time and making time for some continued learning? And, what is the plan if someone gets sick in one household?
Like it or not, you need to figure this out fast because courts are currently closed, except for emergency situations (and I highly doubt this will count). Once they do reopen, there is going to be a major backlog, and will you really be able to afford the legal battle?
While you try to work things out, whatever you do, keep your children insulated from conflict as much as possible. Right now what they need most is for us to reassure them that we will do our best to (1) keep them safe, (2) provide for their needs, and (3) love them unconditionally, no matter what’s going on in the outside world.
By Regina A. DeMeo