The importance of a co-parenting plan for the pandemic

The global pandemic has created unique stress and hurdles for each of us. For those of us with children and custody agreements to manage, these challenges may be even greater.

If you’re co-parenting during the pandemic, your concerns about what your child does and where they go when they’re not at your house may be especially high. North Carolina is beginning to reopen, but the state’s infection rate has not yet begun to diminish.

It’s important for you and your ex to get on the same page about how to behave during this time – and set consistent expectations with your child. Here are some considerations to discuss with your co-parent:

  • Agree on outings and activities: Businesses and public venues are starting to reopen, but you and your co-parent should discuss your level of comfort with certain activities. Do you want your ex to take your child to the beach yet? Outdoor barbecues may be allowed again, but do you want your child having close contact with non-family members yet? You and your co-parent need to agree on the types of outings you’re both comfortable with your child participating in, and any family or friends they’re allowed to socialize with.
  • Plan for infection control: If your child splits their time between your and your co-parent’s house, the risk of transmitting infections across households is especially high. Have a communication plan in place to report anyone who has had (likely or confirmed) contact with the virus, as well as anyone who develops concerning symptoms. Additionally, you should have a plan in place for what to do if someone becomes infected – and how that may temporarily change your custody arrangement.
  • Stay flexible: During this highly stressful time, understanding and flexibility is paramount. You can’t predict or control everything that may happen in the coming weeks or months. If unexpected events mean that one parent can’t have custody of their child during the assigned time, make arrangements for make-up visits. Judges expect parents to make reasonable accommodations during extraordinary circumstances such as these.

The way each of us chooses to respond to this unprecedented time is personal. We all have different levels of concern surrounding this health crisis, and it’s important for co-parents to respect each other’s boundaries when the health of their family is involved.

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