Parenting Plans and COVID-19
Posted by Ramos Law Group, PLLC | Child Custody
COVID-19 has impacted almost every aspect of Texans’ lives in some way, whether through job issues, staying home, social distancing, and other impacts. The pandemic also has unique implications for individuals who have a parenting plan in place to cover child custody and visitation. Even though things are starting to return to normal in some respects, it is likely that you have already experienced some disruptions in your arrangement. There can be no doubt that additional interruptions will arise, especially with some of the uncertainty surrounding the reopening of schools.
It is also inevitable that these disruptions in your parenting plan will also lead to disagreements. Through no fault of either parent, you may need to adjust your weekly, weekend, and evening schedules – and be ready to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. It is not practical to head to court every time there is a dispute or you need to make a change, so your best strategy is to try and work things out whenever possible. Your Texas child custody and visitation attorney can advise you on a few tips for dealing with your parenting plan during COVID-19
Facilitating the Rights of Non-Custodial Parents: The parent with visitation rights is most likely to experience the biggest impact of disruptions in the parenting plan due to COVID-19. However, this fact does not excuse the custodial parent from responsibilities in this area. All issues regarding custody and visitation must support the child’s best interests – an obligation that extends to both parents, even in the middle of a pandemic. Some action steps for parents in accordance with this legal standard may include:
- If a schedule change cuts into visitation, the custodial parent should ensure that the child is available for virtual parenting time. You can implement video conferencing solutions like Zoom, Skype, and Instagram for engagement between the child and the non-custodial parent. As such, the custodial parent should be willing to assist with the technology necessary to make these meetings happen.
- Make the most of parenting time when you have it. Put the cell phone down and do what you can to avoid working while you are exercising visitation rights. Outside activities are popular for social distancing purposes, so take a walk, ride bikes, or play games in the fresh air.
- Both parents should be as flexible as possible for purposes of custody and visitation, so avoid being rigid about times for pick up and drop off. If your schedule allows it, you can switch up how you handle evenings or weekends in the parenting plan.
Parenting Plan Factors as Texas Schools Re-Open: Depending on your district, there may be a hybrid approach to school for Fall 2020. Your child might be spending some time in the classroom, supplemented by e-learning. Parents may decide to go 100 percent online or schools may opt to close, which means you must take homeschooling into account with parenting time. Little is certain about what the school year will look like, except that disruptions are inevitable. Parents may need to ask such questions as:
- What aspects of your parenting plan are adjustable and which features are non-negotiable? You might be willing to compromise on the schedule, but you probably do not want to change the child’s school to make the parenting plan workable.
- Is one parent more suited to handle homeschooling? If a co-parent works remotely, he or she might be able to accommodate the child’s e-learning from home. A parent with a set work schedule might not be able to take off if the child’s school closes for in-person learning.
- How does safety affect your parenting plan? COVID-19 is a threat to anyone exposed, so you must consider whether one parent’s job might put the child at risk. Health care workers and first responders are our front line in fighting the pandemic, and you will need to take extra precautions to ensure that the child is safe. Unless the circumstances are extreme, the custodial parent should not withhold visitation, however.
A Texas Child Custody and Visitation Lawyer Can Assist With Parenting Plans
The lives of parents and children may have been thrown into a state of disarray by COVID-19, but there are ways to stick with parenting plan basics while also accounting for disruptions. When you keep in mind that custody and visitation are judged by the child’s best interests standard, you can work out an arrangement without going to court over every disagreement. For more information on how our team can help, please contact The Ramos Law Group, PLLC to set up a consultation.