Rebuilding Your Co-Parenting Plan for The “New Normal”
Uncontested Divorce Mediation
Posted August 6, 2020
The recent pandemic turned a lot of Denver divorce mediation agreements on their heads, especially when it comes to child custody. Who has the kids suddenly became “Who’s locking down with the kids?”. Traveling to trade custody became risky-to-impossible. Not to mention the huge career/financial impact felt by parents across the country. Co-parenting has never required more teamwork and cooperation.
When it came time to shelter-in-place, we sheltered and let custody agreements slide for family safety. But now, months into the pandemic, it’s time to start building the “new normal”. It’s time to update our custody agreements for-the-duration, building new post-COVID policies to ensure that kids get an equal and safe amount of time with each parent.
Today, we’re here to help you dive into the new considerations for new-normal custody. Whether you are still finalizing your Denver divorce mediation terms or updating an existing contract, your co-parenting success depends on adapting to the new circumstances and we can help.
The COVID-Safe Custody Hand-Off
Mixing households is the primary risk of passing illness from one person to another. So handing off the kids between co-parent households embodies this risk. This is why everyone should work hard to maintain personal air-space safety in-between so that neither parent is at-risk when they take the kids into their own households.
During the hand-off, everyone should wear masks, especially if you meet in a public space. For older kids, consider arrangements where parents do not meet. For example, arrange to drop the kids off, where your co-parent is visible from the front door or garage but you never share personal space.
A More Practical Schedule
Swapping frequently for weekends may no longer be practical, especially when frequent trades create a higher risk. However, because so many parents are working from home now, it’s also more practical to trade the kids for longer intervals. Two weeks is likely to become the new standard due to quarantine rules, which we’ll discuss more completely in the next point.
Rebuild the custody schedule with your co-parent so that each of you is sharing fair time with the kids while lengthening the amount of time between hand-offs.
The Quarantine Method
If both parents can work from home and mostly get deliveries for all nececities, then you can use the safest possible custody method. COVID-19 runs its course in 2 weeks, and isolating for 14 days is enough to ensure that someone is no longer contagious. Especially if there are no symptoms. So if co-parents both agree to 2-week intervals and both isolate (with and without the kids) during that time, then you can conduct a mask-free trade without worry and your kids will be safe moving from household to household.
This is not, of course, possible for everyone. If you need to work or do errands outside the house, take extra precautions like always wearing a mask and maintaining awareness of the surfaces you touch.
Income and Child Support Changes
Be understanding and communicate about how COVID has impacted finances. Your co-parent may have lost their job, or you may have. Now is a time to support each other and work together. If there is a child support arrangement, there’s a good chance that needs to be re-negotiated as both of you settle into a new phase in your post-COVID careers.
Be supportive of finding a new job or building a home office to keep working from home. Be ready to renegotiate now and again when your dual-family really achieves a new-normal equilibrium. Make sure that your Denver divorce mediation agreement (or continued enforcement) do not disadvantage a co-parent who is genuinely trying to do their part. This disaster hit everyone hard, so be prepared to adapt any financial arrangements.
At-Home Working vs Childcare
One important consideration is available childcare. In some cases, a parent now working from home will be more available to watch and take care of kids. But this is not always true. Sometimes, working from home is more difficult and requires a closed, quiet office in order to focus. Make sure that a parent expected to be watching the kids is really available.
Those working at home and those working outside the home may need additional childcare, and it’s important to acknowledge this. A co-parent’s work performance and income may depend on clear lines between parent-time and at-work time, even when at home 100% of the time.
Planning for Home School
You also need to plan for school starting in September, or possibly not starting. We don’t yet know if it will be safe to let children gather in large crowds or be taught in shared classrooms. And if not, all parents will need to be ready to step up to the plate with home schooling. Are either co-parent in your family ready for that? Are your kids?
Open the conversation about how you want to approach school next year. Talk to your co-parent and your children about location, hours, tutoring, resources, and how both parents can pitch in to make sure COVID doesn’t negatively impact your child’s education.
Update Your Custody Agreement, If Necessary
Finally, be prepared to update your Denver divorce mediation and child custody agreement. Some co-parents can adapt comfortably on a handshake system, but that agreement on paper is what is legally enforceable. So make sure it’s fair in today’s circumstances and up-to-date. Work with divorce professionals to re-negotiate child custody and child support terms. If necessary, indicate on paper that these terms are for the duration of the pandemic, however long these new conditions last.
Contact a Denver Divorce Mediator Today
The coronavirus pandemic put a hold on many child custody agreements, but it’s time to rebuild our new-normal. Co-parents can get ahead of the game by starting to negotiate new terms, new schedules, and new child support terms based on how your lives have changed since the crisis began. Be supportive of each other and work together to find the best solutions. Here at Split Simple, we can help couples with Denver divorce mediation paperwork in the most supportive way possible. Contact Split Simple today and let us help you find the solutions that will work best for everyone involved; you, your co-parent, and your children alike.
1624 Market Street #202
Denver, CO 80202