How to effectively co-parent in the age of Coronavirus

Co-parenting with someone who you are separated or divorced from is hard enough in the best of times. Whether you are on good terms with your ex or whether it is War of the Roses daily, co-parenting is hard. When you add something like coronavirus and homeschooling to the equation, things get much more difficult. Let’s discuss some things you can do to enhance your co-parenting during this difficult time.

1. COMPLY WITH ALL COURT ORDERS AND AGREEMENTS. A virus is not an excuse to ignore your court-ordered obligations. You might feel like there is a danger lurking that should enable you to ignore or unilaterally modify your existing court orders. We are here to tell you that this is not the case. Unless and until a court modifies your Order, you are expected to comply with it, regardless of your personal opinion. The fact that the schools are closed is no excuse to not exercise the parenting schedule as is. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary problems by taking the law into your own hands.

2. KEEP YOUR KIDS’ BODIES AND MINDS HEALTHY. When your children are with you, do everyone a favor, including your co-parent, and comply with all guidelines from the CDC, as well as your state and local governments. They all want to keep the spread of this virus to a minimum and your compliance will help accomplish that. Model good behavior for your children including frequent washing of hands, using hand sanitizer liberally, keeping your distance from others and trying to not touch anything that you don’t need to touch. You also need to be honest with your children about the dangers lurking right now. They are hearing all kinds of information, and you should be factual with your children so that they do not absorb the wrong information or become unnecessarily frightened.

3. WHEN HOMESCHOOLING YOUR KIDS, BE CREATIVE. We venture to say that most of us are not trained teachers. Homeschooling your children will be very difficult, particularly those of us that are also working from home. You need to find ways to keep your children engaged, and yourself sane. Although your co-parent may not have parenting time, you should encourage video conferencing, reading of books and helping with schoolwork during your parenting time. Keep your child connected to their other parent during this difficult time.

4. YOU SHOULD BE UNDERSTANDING AND GENEROUS WITH YOUR CO-PARENT. This is a difficult time for everyone. It is certainly not a time to be strict with parenting schedules if a deviation is warranted by the circumstances. If you must work from home and your co-parent can take off a day, let him or her have additional parenting time with your child. This is not a time to let your disgust or anger for your ex take over your thinking. Your child is already scared by the situation and is likely stressed out. Do your part by being flexible with your co-parent. This is about your child, not you.

This is not a time to start fighting with your co-parent. If you have been fighting with your co-parent, this is a time to let those fights go. In a time like this, be a good co-parent. If your ex is deciding not to be a good co-parent, give us a call. That does not mean that any extreme measures are necessary, but you should not let bad behavior go on for long, as it tends to become a status quo.

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About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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