Custody & COVID-19 – Handling Co-Parenting Issues as Stay-At-Home Orders are Lifted

Co-parenting will get trickier as stay-at-home orders are lifted. During stay at home orders, parents were dealing with uniform instructions about how to act. Co-parenting was still an issue when parents considered how to apply the guidance to their child and custody situations. These issues finally started to feel under control for many parents when the next challenge has arisen. As stay-at-home orders are lifted, the directions about social distancing are becoming more uneven. Parents will need to consider the regulations set by government, as well as social issues.

As parents head back to work, they will need to discuss potential childcare arrangements. Will they use the same provider? Will they limit the child’s time at a daycare? Will they allow the non-custodial parent to care for the child instead of a third party babysitter? Is a nanny practicing the same level of social distancing? Parents will need to have open communication about their intended childcare arrangements. They must be ready for these plans to change quickly as more information is learned. It would be helpful for a parent to get as much information from the childcare provider as possible, and then pass that information along to the co-parent. Both parents may need to talk to childcare provider to determine the specifics of how social distancing will occur within the facility itself. If the parents are using separate childcare providers, there may need to be a discussion about information being provided between the parties.

Courts are beginning to reopen. This means the courts may start to be able to address custody disputes. Court responses will likely be delayed as the courts attempt to catch up on the items that were canceled during the court closure. As courts open up many are providing direction to local lawyers. The Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania has issued general emergency procedures for lawyers to follow, as well as area specific for information for custody cases and domestic violence cases. Co-parents should be prepared for court dates to continue to occur virtually via either phone or video conference.

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