New year, new month, new day, new client, it doesn’t matter. Generally, attorneys and judges will always advise clients to stick to their custody and visitation agreements to avoid the constant courtroom battles. However because COVID-19 insists on going on a full blown rampage, that advice should be guided by the Golden Rule. Treat others how you’d like to be treated. Always sounds simple right? But when it comes to co-parenting, this way of living is easily forgotten.
Co-parenting always requires a little extra compromise, but with COVID-19 still looming over the world, co-parenting requires a lot more compromise and a fair share of compassion. Here’s the thing, with the latest COVID-19 variant, Omicron, on a rampage, how you co-parent currently may require you to deviate from co-parenting arrangements. But to avoid the possibility of being accused of contempt or being tempted with finding cause to have the other parent held in contempt, both parents need to compassionately communicate to find a compromise. The “COVID Compromise” equation adds compromise, communication, and everyone being compassionate when co-parenting. (C+C+C)
We saw how easily Christmas and New Year’s Eve plans shifted as the newest spike of COVID-19 was so generous as to grace us with its presence— the Grinch who stole Christmas. COVID-19 has proven time after time that it has little to no preference when deciding who, when, or where it’ll affect or threaten. So when it comes to co-parenting, it’s okay to compromise when COVID-19 interferes. The on-going pandemic has changed celebrations, peoples availability, and even the school system yet again. So if the other parent is scheduled to have the child on a specific day or week/end, would it hurt if we compromise a little? Compromise when there is need to modify if someone is waiting for test results after a recent exposure or is quarantining due to positive result. But most importantly, compromise if the child’s availability needs it too. The judge or attorney doesn’t need to tell you this – compromise. Courts favor considerate co-parenting.
Set aside the urge to argue based on principle. Fut focus on maintaining peace in the long run. Whether it is swapping weekends, hosting two birthday celebrations, meeting in the middle, allowing reasonable tardiness or rescheduling, or even switching from physical visits to virtual – compromise.
Two years later, having COVID-19 or being exposed to COVID-19 is nothing to be ashamed of or hold in secret. Both parents should be comfortable with sharing their inability of upholding certain parenting agreements when COVID-19 is the honest excuse. Communicate the need to modify the agreement and the duration of such modifications.
Remember, your best interest isn’t necessarily the child’s best interest so be compassionate to their needs as well as the other parent’s. The same is actually true even in the absence of a pandemic. Plans can shift with varying life events and COVID-19 has frequently been the recent source. Whether you, the other parent, or even the child may have been exposed, tested positive, or are grieving the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19, be compassionate to the circumstances and pick up some slack when necessary and possible. The other parent’s financial capacity may have also been affected due to COVID-19. Just be mindful.
So yes, stick to the legal technicalities when it comes to support, custody, and visitation but be compassionate to the shift in circumstances when possible.