How do I Prepare my Co-Parenting Plan for the Months Ahead Dealing With COVID-19?
As time goes on and the Coronavirus conditions begin to gradually improve in the state of New Jersey, it is important to remember that we may still be weeks away from returning to “normal.” It is because of this that parents should check back in on their co-parenting plan. Many parents have made adjustments during the struggle of adjusting to the new Coronavirus circumstances. Until stay-at-home orders within the state end and parents can go back to their original parenting plan, consider the following tips to allow for smoother co-parenting until the lockdown is over.
Take Advantage of Custody Flexibility
As a result of the Coronavirus, custody arrangements have changed for families in a variety of ways. For some people, this has been a positive thing, as it has allowed more flexibility. Instead of dropping off children on the weekends due to school, some co-parents have been able to go about more of an informal parenting time exchange since they are stuck at home. If this arrangement has been working, it is a good idea to keep it up. If you currently have other arrangements and wish to try this, try talking to your co-parent about trying it out. However, in the event that one parent is at high risk for contracting the virus or works in an essential job where they are exposed to it, frequent custody rotations may not be ideal. It is important to remember that any temporary parenting time changes should be put in writing and reviewed by your attorney.
Reevaluating Co-parenting Emergency Plans
There are many parents of divorce who work on the front lines of the pandemic as doctors, nurses, EMT’s, and more. As a result, they may have voluntarily given up some or all of their parenting time during the peak of the virus throughout the state of New Jersey. However, as the crisis begins to slow, it is important for co-parents to begin thinking about what it will look like to go back to normal parenting time routines. If a temporary co-parenting agreement was signed, look to see if it designated an end date. If there is no end date, both parents should discuss a date they can agree to.
If one parent is resistant to going back to a normal schedule, it is best to speak with an attorney to discuss your options. Both parents remain all rights to their children during this time, and a proper attorney can guide you through what options you have to protect these rights.
Establish a Child Power of Attorney
No one wants to consider what would happen in the event that they do fall ill to the Coronavirus. However, it is important to have a plan in place in the event that either parent finds themselves in this situation. If either parent becomes sick and is unavailable to take care of their children, will the other parent take over 100% of the child care?
The New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) recommends that parents put a Child Power of Attorney in place. This names a temporary guardian for children in the event that either parent becomes sick with COVID-19. Without a plan in place for a child’s care in the event of these situations, it is possible that a child could be put in foster care.
Create a Coronavirus Co-Parenting Recovery Plan
Life moving forward will most likely be very different than people are normally used to. This can mean no summer camp, sports, or vacations throughout the upcoming summer season. This change in the way people live their lives should be reflected in how co-parents choose to address it. One example can include childcare options if one parent or both choose to return to work outside of the home.
In addition to this, many parents may have lost parenting time in the last few months due to the pandemic. As you look ahead at the upcoming months, this can be a good time to consider how that parent may get this time back that they lost.
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