Co-Parenting During COVID-19 for Divorced or Separated Families

By: Melissa L. Exline, Esq.

Yes, this is an issue. We have seen an increase in situations where parents are worried for their children and the worry is whether to send the children over to the other parent for normal custodial exchanges during the pandemic. Is it safe? Are the children going to be exposed and bring something here? It is not easy.

In addition, many times, the parenting orders are written so that exchanges are set to take place before/after school. And plans for Spring Break – well, forget about it. All of that went out the window. Already strained communication could be more strained. Since you are reading this, you know this already and you are ready to not let this undermine how you handle the next messy parenting discussion.

I urge parents to be their best selves in this time. Put the children’s needs first; after all, they are part of both families. I read this article “Co-Parenting in a Crisis” and found it insightful.

Rather than freaking out that the other parent is not “safe enough” and writing a strongly worded email about what he or she must do, take a step back and write something heartfelt and express why social-distancing is so important.  Rather than taking the children shopping at Target, and ignoring the fact that your children’s step-parent has COPD, take a moment to find some empathy.  There are those that want everyone to just “get over it” and move on. There are those that are “gripped with fear.”  No one is right – per se. After all, how a parent handles this situation could have ramifications that creep up later, when the pandemic is over.

Kimberly Surratt served for eight years on the executive council and has been the vice chair and then chair of the State Bar of Nevada Family Law Section. In addition, she is the President-Elect of the Nevada Justice Association and the chair of the domestic lobbying committee. She has lobbied with the Nevada Justice Association since 2004.

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