Co-Parenting during COVID-19

We’re approaching 3 weeks into an unprecedented era.

Younger children probably don’t understand, and older children may be resistant to the new restrictions. Parents may be dealing with sudden unemployment, trying to concentrate while working at home, and taking care of children at the same time. Custody and parenting issues in divorced and blended families are now exacerbated. Life feels like a creeping disaster, especially with schools in the Bay Area closed for the school year. 

Special problems in co-parenting include parents who dismiss the orders and guidelines from the government.

Some parents may even use the pandemic as an excuse to keep a child away from the other. As of March 25th, the Santa Clara County Superior Court is effectively closed for regular business, but limited domestic violence, mental health and juvenile dependency functions are still running. If you feel you, or your children are in danger, call!

Talk online with your attorney and other professionals helping you with your case. Remember that attorney / client privilege and confidentiality still apply. Find a quiet location, as private as possible (I’ve heard of people going to their cars) and never record these meetings. If your children need to talk with a professional, they should also have privacy.

What can professionals distill down for us right now, if we’re trying to communicate remotely with the other parent of our child?

  1. Understand this situation magnifies differences in parenting and different personalities.
  2. Recognize that any problems family members might be experiencing are also being magnified. 
  3. Don’t underestimate the stress that you and your family is experiencing.
  4. Pick your battles carefully.
  5. Remember the well-being of your children should be first in your mind when discussing issues with the other parent.
  6. Try to bring some structure to your days. Calling the other parent can help with this! Schedule a Zoom or other online meeting with the other parent every day. This can be added to ad lib calls by the kids.
  7. Give your children free and liberal access to methods of communication with the other parent and family members. They should be able to talk without interruption, in a safe, quiet spot.

This last point is probably the most important. Relationships, already changed by a divorce, will need some extra TLC. A lot of resources are springing up online and are listed at the bottom of this article.

Santa Clara County Superior Court

Email: covid@scscourt.org Call: (408) 882-2700 (press 8 then 0)

The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

https://www.afccnet.org/

AFCC provides useful webinars form the perspective of professionals such as Matt Sullivan Ph.D and Robin Deutsch Ph.D., and others involved with family courts.

Ourfamilywizard.com/covid-19-resources

This has some very useful links specific to this situation

Lastly, if you do not currently have professionals assisting you, find professionals who reflect your desire to parent cooperatively. There are professional groups that emphasize helping families in this unique way. Some local professionals can be found at: https://nocourt.org/ and https://collaborativedivorcecalifornia.com/.

This blog was written by our Legal Assistant Emma Stockwell, a Paralegal with CFL 3 years and a Client Interaction Specialist. Her philosophy is that a positive impact on kids when parents cooperatively co-parent, especially in the midst of challenging circumstances, will be the most beneficial in the long term.