I’ve been getting a lot of calls and emails about how co-parents should react to the COVID-19 crisis and how they should interpret their court-ordered parenting plans during this non-school time.
Last week, I sent out a statement from the AFCC/AAML that included good general advice. This week, I have received two clarification notices from Cobb County, Fulton County, and Gwinnett County judges. In addition, I created a policy for CNFC professionals to follow with our clients. Our statement is this (and it is in line with the clarification notices and AFCC/AAML advice);
- School IS, in fact, in session, but most are beingheldremotely at home for now (and possibly the rest of the school year). Therefore, our clients are to act as if school is in session, So, for example, if one parent is supposed to drop off at school at 7:00 am and the other pick up at school at 3:00 pm (Monday-Friday), parent one will be responsible until 3:00 and parent two will take over from there, picking up the child from the other parent’s home or other agreed upon location at 3:00.
- We are also encouraging co-parents to work out a negotiated schedule to possibly tag-team on the home schooling duties, but ONLY if they can do it without conflict and if both parents are committed to insuring the children get their assignments done each day on time. Most parents would welcome help with the homeschooling, however, those who have a controlling or difficult ex may do better to not try to share this duty if it will only cause more conflict. It has to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. If this can’t be done with the two above conditions, parents should maintain the school time schedule.
In addition, parents are expressing concern that their co-parent might not keep their child safe from the virus, so they want to deny visitation until the crisis ends. They should not arbitrarily do that unless someone in their co-parent’s home has tested positive for the virus or is on a mandatory quarantine because of exposure, but even then, they should consult with their attorney about it. Advise all parents to follow the CDC guidelines regarding social distancing and disinfecting, and then to trust that their co-parents love their children enough to keep them protected.
Stay safe and be well!