Even under normal circumstances, co-parenting can be challenging. Unfortunately, parenting agreements signed before COVID-19 probably lack any terms that address a pandemic. The unprecedented situation has caused confusion and conflict for many divorced parents in New Jersey.
When it comes to co-parenting, the children are the priority. No one benefits if disagreements about schedule changes create hostility, so it is best to try to reach a resolution without too much arguing. Of course, with the safety and health of your family at stake, it might not be easy to compromise. In these scenarios, speaking to an experienced family law attorney is a good way to learn your options.
Communication is Critical
Communicating with a former spouse or partner is not always easy, but it is especially important for families to speak to one another during the pandemic. Schedules that depend on pick-up and drop-off at school or daycare will need to change if the children are remote learning. Parents might also need additional assistance with childcare.
The schedule that worked before might now be impossible, requiring parents to work together on an adapted schedule. Of course, some couples will not be able to agree on modifications. Co-parents who are struggling to compromise on COVID adaptations should consult with a New Jersey family lawyer.
Failing to Abide by the Schedule
Shelter-in-place orders create greater challenges for families where the children move back and forth between two homes. A parent might believe that transferring the children to the other parent will put them at risk of exposure. Perhaps the other parent has a job that puts them at risk, or maybe they refuse to socially distance.
While this scenario can be incredibly stressful, it is important not to break the schedule unilaterally. If one parent suspects that the other parent is a serious risk to the children and the health of the family, they should speak to a local family lawyer right away. In some cases, it might be possible to seek an emergency change to the schedule.
The court will likely encourage the parents to maintain the schedule. Voluntary temporary modifications might be the ideal course of action, but this will not always be an option. However, it is important to remember that withholding children from the other parent during their scheduled time could have consequences.
Finances and Co-Parenting
Many people lost their jobs or income because of COVID-19. Some parents might not be in the position to pay child support at the rate they paid before the pandemic. The financial strain caused by the pandemic can lead to more stress and more conflict.
Changing child support because of lost income is possible, but any modification must go through official channels. If a person stops paying support, they may end up owing back pay and facing other penalties. Co-parents should be honest with one another about their concerns and intentions.
The income of the receiving parent also factors into the equation, so job loss for that individual can create a need to modify support as well. None of these issues are easy to figure out or negotiate. If co-parents are struggling to reach an agreement about child support during the pandemic, it might be time to speak with a New Jersey family lawyer.
Discuss Pandemic Co-Parenting with an Attorney
An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options. When it comes to co-parenting, conflicts can quickly escalate and cause rifts that take a toll on the whole family. Trying to fix these problems on your own without legal counsel can also lead to additional litigation in the future.
If you are experiencing conflict with your co-parent during the pandemic, it is a good idea to seek legal advice. Call a New Jersey family law attorney to discuss your case.