Top 3 Pragmatic Co-Parenting during COVID-19

**This article originally appeared in Ricketts Harris’s page: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/ricketts-harris-llp_top-3-co-parenting-strategies-during-covid-activity-6651137161955467264-tQl6

We thank Elizabeth Mourao for her permission in reproducing it here.**

It isn’t easy to co-parent during these days: social distancing, extended school closures, and working from home make parenting difficult. Elizabeth Mourao has put together her top three tips for separated parents on how to navigate this difficult time while co-parenting. Elizabeth can be reached at emourao@rickettsharris.com or 647.288.3361.

1. Be Thoughtful

Now is the time to set aside differences and get on the phone with your co-parent. Be honest about the need to co-parent in a civil and respectful manner regardless of how challenging this may have proven in the past. Commit to one another that you will adhere to Federal and Provincial government mandates. Determine how you will discuss the seriousness of the pandemic with your children, in manner that is age appropriate. Attempt to implement similar routine in both households; for example, as it relates to Covid-19, explain the importance of social distancing and demonstrate proper hand washing. Discuss and reach a consensus on how much media exposure the children will be permitted and the degree to which you wish to daily discuss the pandemic and the evolving impact it is having on society.

2. Be Compliant with Orders of the Court/Parenting Agreements

First, continue to comply with Court Orders/ Parenting Agreements as much as possible. These documents remain binding and are all the more significant during these difficult times. Do not look to use the current situation to withhold contact between children and the other parent; in the long term, this will backfire. As with everything, there will be exceptions: a child with underlying health issues that makes them more susceptible to Covid-19 perhaps should not transfer between households. Similarly, it make be difficult to sustain access visits that currently take place in the community. Should there be a reason necessitating modification to a Court Order/ Parenting Agreement, be transparent and immediately discuss this with the other parent. Get creative in assuring that children are not kept from contact with the other parent. Permit daily telephone calls, Skype/FaceTime. Discuss makeup time once the situation clears.

3. Be Realistic in Light of the Circumstances at Hand

Covid-19 will and already is causing financial hardship for many. This becomes more complex for separated parents. It will lead to lost earnings for both payors of child support and recipients of support. Payors should make best efforts to continue court-ordered child support payments. Were this is not sustainable, payors must be transparent and immediately notify the recipient. Where possible, payors should try to provide some form of support even if a reduced amount. The recipient of support should try and be accommodating in what are uncharted times (thought temporary),  which will eventually regain normalcy.

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