California co-parents and their children are living in unfamiliar territory, that can cause unprecedented stress for all family members.
Parents working from home are feeling unprepared for their virtual work life, while trying to manage their non-school age children and assist their older children with online school instruction and homework.
For some shelter-at-home orders are interfering with co-parenting plan schedules.
Keep reading for key information, suggestions, and resources that can help you navigate shared parenting during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Effect on Pending Court Cases
Since California’s family courts are now closed, except for emergencies such as domestic violence, co-parents with pending court cases can expect significant delays. This link has information about Court closures. Contact your family lawyer, if you have one, for specific details.
School and College Closures in California
Most of California’s elementary and secondary schools and colleges and universities are closed and offering online instruction. Governor Newsom has indicated that schools could remain closed until summer break.
You can find a wealth of information about California schools and colleges at EdSource.org, which is updated daily.
Protecting Against Domestic Violence
Studies indicate that enormous stressors arising from natural disasters and challenging economic times, both of which are occurring during this pandemic, increase the rate of domestic violence. Shelter-at-home and social distancing orders are necessary to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But isolating victims of domestic violence with abusers puts them at risk for further abuse
If you are a victim of domestic violence or are living in a situation where you fear for your safety:
- Connect with friends, family, and neighbors via phone, text, email, FaceTime, and other telecommunication platforms.
- Consider moving in with a friend or family member.
- Work out a safety plan with a friend or family member. For example, you can decide on a code word that you can say or text to a friend or family member so that this person can call the authorities on your behalf.
Here are useful resources that may be helpful to parents in California who are experiencing problems with domestic violence. Even throughout this pandemic, these organizations are still available to help.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Toll-free number: 800.799.7233
- Website: https://www.thehotline.org/help/
- Locate domestic violence shelters in California: https://www.domesticshelters.org/help
Effective Communication with Your Co-Parent
Sharing parenting can be challenging enough without adding a pandemic into the situation. In the midst of this crisis, clear communication will help you and your co-parent manage family matters throughout this situation.
Recognize Health Recommendations and Create a Plan
Agree to follow public health recommendations and government orders, such as social distancing, hand washing, etc., and the behaviors in each household that will support these recommendations and orders. Calmly discuss how you will enact these recommendations and orders in each home. You will be lowering the possibility of you engaging in conflict and will ensure that you are both doing all that you can to protect your children’s health and safety.
Create a plan about how you will work together to keep your children healthy physically and emotionally during this crisis, including what you will do if a serious health concern arises at either of your homes.
Try Building Comparable Schedules
If possible, create similar routines for the day at each home. Schedules can help children (and adults) feel more secure. A timeline for the day could include the early morning routine of waking, bathroom hygiene, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and going outside for a while.
Next in the schedule could be children doing their online schoolwork and parents doing work. Later, playing some games together, doing puzzles, etc. You can find fun activities to do with your children here.
Be Cautious About Your Conversations
Avoid talking about emotionally charged topics, such as financial or long-term custody issues, scheduled to be addressed at future court hearings. You are planning for the short-term. Additionally, ensure your children are not in earshot of your discussions, phone calls, or those of others, for example, other family members or friends.
Avoid Withholding Parenting Time
Do your best not to use this pandemic as an opportunity to control or withhold your co-parent’s parenting time with your children. Down the road, the court may be reviewing your actions during this time. Of course, if you have serious concerns about your children’s health and safety while at their other parent’s residence, contact your medical professional or your attorney, if you have one, for advice.
If you run into an unsolvable conflict with your co-parent, you can visit the below website of Collaborative Divorce California for professionals in your area who can help you: https://collaborativedivorcecalifornia.com