Guidelines for Parents Who Share Placement of Children during Pandemic

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts offer these guidelines for parents who share placement of children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Be healthy: Comply with all health guidelines and model good behavior through intensive handwashing, wiping down frequently touched surfaces and maintaining social distancing.

Be mindful: Be honest with your children about the seriousness of the pandemic, but remain calm and reassuring. Encourage children to express concerns and ask questions, and answer them truthfully in an age-appropriate way.

Be compliant with court orders and custody agreements, which should remain in force despite the unusual circumstances.

Be creative: Some parents may be out of work; others may need to work extra. Encourage closeness with the parent who will not see the child through shared books, movies, games and FaceTime or Skype.

Be transparent: Be honest with your co-parent about any virus exposure, and agree on steps to protect children from exposure.

Be generous: Try to provide makeup time to the parent who missed out. Family-law judges expect reasonable accommodations to be made and will take concerns seriously in later filings about parents who were inflexible.

Be understanding: The pandemic may lead to lost earnings for parents who are paying or receiving child support. The paying parent should try to provide something, even if it can’t be the full amount. The receiving parent should try to be accommodating under these challenging circumstances.