The COVID-19 health crisis has affected the lives of virtually all Americans, closing down businesses, schools, and even courthouses across the country. Health experts have long indicated that the shutdowns were and are necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but the response has forced many Illinois parents to amend their existing parenting plan and left significant questions about handling shared parental responsibilities.
For example, if you are subject to a shared parenting time arrangement, you may be wondering how you are supposed to handle a situation in which the other parent is not taking social distancing, self-isolation, or mask-wearing directives as seriously as you are. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast answers to be found during this unprecedented situation, but there are a few things that you should try to do if possible.
Follow Your Existing Order If You Can
For some parents, the thought of their child contracting or spreading the coronavirus is scary enough that they want everyone to simply stay at home until the threat is no longer as serious. Concern over your family’s health is reasonable, but when your children are accustomed to dividing time between two parents’ homes, expecting them to stay in one home throughout the pandemic can put significant strain on their relationship with the other parent and cause major co-parenting conflict. With this in mind, it is a good idea to follow your existing parenting plan to the degree that is safely possible, and try to work with the other parent to promote the health and safety of everyone involved.
Set a Good Example
Regardless of how your other parent is handling the health crisis, you can be a good example for your child in your own home. This means that you should keep your rules firm when your child is with you. Let your child see you washing your hands regularly and choosing activities that allow for social distancing, and explain to your child why these choices are important to you. By doing so, you will increase the likelihood of your child making similar choices when he or she is with the other parent.
Find Room for Flexibility
Depending on your situation, you may believe that is too risky to follow your existing parenting plan with no changes. For example, if someone in your small circle is immunocompromised or someone in the other parent’s home has contracted the coronavirus, the best option might be to temporarily amend your parenting time schedule. If you need to change your plan, however, it is very important to come up with an alternative arrangement that allows your child to maintain a positive relationship with the other parent without endangering anyone’s health.
Your alternative arrangements could include:
In-person, outdoor visits with masks and restrictions on physical distance
Phone conversations or video visits
Daily text messages or emails
Handwritten notes, cards, and letters
When you propose alternatives to your existing parenting plan, you may wish to offer “make-up” parenting time to your child’s other parent after the COVID-19 threat dies down. By making such an offer now, you can demonstrate that your child’s relationship with his or her other parent is important to you and that you are not taking advantage of the health crisis as a way to alienate the other parent.
Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney
If you and your child’s other parent are struggling to find common ground regarding your parenting plan in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the team at Goostree Law Group may be able to help. Contact one of our experienced St. Charles parenting time lawyers to discuss your situation and your options for finding a reasonable solution. Call 630-584-4800 for a free consultation today.