Categories: News and Updates, The Family Lawyer Education Center481 words1.8 min read

COVID-19 and Co-parenting

About the Author: Kristdel Bolog

Kristdel practices solely in Family Law has been a Partner at The Family Lawyer since June 2019. Aside from her amazing ability to recite from memory the entire “Ode to Spot” by Commander Data, she has a wealth of knowledge and practical experience from a decade in the field of family law. Kristdel’s passion for the law and a love of helping people through difficult times enables her to put peoples minds at ease, even during complicated or bitter family court proceedings. As our resident “empath” she is The Family Lawyers’ Counsellor and is always there to listen to her colleagues or clients and bring a smile to their faces. Her nickname around the office is “the nerd”, a badge she wears proudly. Kristdel is hardworking, knowledgeable and dedicated to getting great outcomes for her clients. You can contact her at kbolog@thefamilylawyer.com.au or on 03 8657 3751.
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March 26, 2020

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Co-Parenting through COVID-19

As millions of people around the globe start practicing social distancing and self-quarantine, they are separating themselves from everyone but their immediate family members. However, for divorced or separated parents who have shared care arrangements they are facing an even greater uncertainty when faced with complying with court orders and parenting plans.

Already, family lawyers are being inundated with calls from concerned and unsure parents worried about allowing their children to return to the other parents’ home in fear that the other parent may not be practicing social distancing. They are contemplating keeping their child away from the other parent, in violation of a shared-custody agreement – but wonder how courts will react and how it may affect them moving forward.

With many family courts closed or delaying hearings, families with co-parenting arrangements will have to make up arrangements as they go along. Our advice is to try to work together – however difficult that may be – to provide for the best interests of their children, and to preserve a sense of fairness and equity, both emotionally and legally, however, custody is shared.

Reaching an agreement

As many businesses and workplaces shut down or move to work from home arrangements, many parents may find opportunities to adjust schedules so the child can be cared for by one parent or the other, rather than bring in the care of sitters, nannies or members of the extended family.

Public health experts say it’s best to limit social circles to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

When possible, parents should try to act as a team in this situation, even if it is difficult. This is not the time to keep a minute accounting of how many overnights the other parent has had or to argue that the current school closures should be treated like summer vacation.

It is stressful for everyone – parents and children alike – to live through this pandemic. Children don’t need the added worry of their parents fighting. They badly need more stability and reassurance – especially about their contact and connection with those who love them the most.

Not complying with a court order

 If an agreement really cannot be made, the path gets much more precarious.

Parents who fear for their children’s health may be willing to take their chances and hope that when this is all over, the family courts will agree with them that their decision was reasonable. However, this is a gamble – and regardless of the outcome is likely to involve significant legal expense and time fighting in court.

The choices parents make in the next few weeks affect not only the immediate health and welfare of their children and families but may also have an impact on their future custody arrangements.

The circumstances surrounding many custody disputes have changed drastically in the past week, but as always, the safest bet is cooperation.

How can we help?

If you need legal advice or support, our experienced and compassionate family lawyers can assist you, whatever stage you may be at. Talk to us today for a FREE 15-minute family law consultation by calling 03 8657 3751 or via email at enquiries@thefamilylawyer.com.au we look forward to helping you achieve a better outcome.

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