Jackson, Mississippi Co-Parenting During COVID-19Co-parenting in the best of times can be challenging enough, but co-parenting during a pandemic, or trying to work out a parenting plan in the midst of a global pandemic can be even more difficult. The Law Offices of Malouf & Malouf is a divorce law firm in Jackson, Mississippi that may be able to assist you if you need help drafting a parenting plan during your divorce, or if you need to modify an existing parenting plan because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents who live in separate homes may have many new concerns and stressors during this time, and having a clear parenting plan regarding visitation schedules and expectations can help reduce stress, as well as increase clarity and responsibility. What are some unique challenges divorced or separated families are facing due to COVID-19? What can you do if you and your former partner cannot agree on certain aspects of visitation, schooling, or social distancing during this time of pandemic? Here are some unique issues and ways they can be addressed:
- Social Distancing and Social Interaction. Mississippi has issued requirements ordering workers who are in contact with the public to wear a face mask. Members of the public have been ordered to wear a face mask when in a place of business. People are being asked, when possible, to maintain a distance of 6 feet away from each other, and indoor gatherings should be limited to 10 people, or 20 people outdoors. Despite these orders, there are individuals who continue to violate the orders and when co-parents disagree about the level of social distancing they want to observe and the level of social distancing they want for their children, disputes can arise. Some parents want stricter social distancing for their children, choosing not to partake in any gatherings at all at this time. This is a time where it is important to discuss your concerns, and also to follow Mississippi’s orders. If your partner isn’t following these orders when your child is visiting, this could be reason to re-negotiate your parenting plan.
- Changed visitation schedules. If you set up a visitation schedule pre-pandemic, you might find that the visitation schedule no longer makes sense in a post-pandemic world. With parents working from home, children home from school, and with some people out of work, some co-parents are re-assessing their visitation schedules. In some cases, it might be possible to negotiate changes with your partner on your own, but if you cannot agree on changes, a divorce lawyer like Malouf & Malouf may be able to help you modify your parenting plan.
- According to WLBT, Jackson schools released their plans for re-opening school in the fall. Parents of Elementary and Middle-school aged children will have the option of choosing between virtual learning or in-person learning, and high schoolers will have the option of virtual learning, or attending school part-time on alternating days. Many parents are eager to see their children return to school, while other parents are understandably concerned about their children’s potential to be exposed to the virus in a school setting. Parents who are divorced may face challenges or disputes if one parent wants the children to go back to school and the other parent prefers virtual learning. Again, compromise and considering the best interests of the children is important. A divorce lawyer like Malouf & Malouf in Jackson, Mississippi can also mediate or help you work out a parenting plan that addresses these concerns if you cannot agree with your former spouse on your own.
- Consider the best interests of your children. COVID-19 raises a range of previously unthinkable issues. Both parents may reconsider their parenting plans in some situations. For example, parents who work in healthcare or in high-risk professions have sometimes had their children stay with the parent who doesn’t work in a high-risk field. Other parents might have to consider each parent’s resources. For example, one parent may have ample outdoor space where a child could play outside or one parent may have better internet access than the other. Given the realities of our current time, parents may consider these issues when renegotiating parenting plans or when drafting parenting plans.
- Living together in a pandemic. Some couples who had planned to divorce before the pandemic have found themselves in the uncomfortable position of living in the same household in quarantine with a person they want to divorce. If you find yourself in this position, finding compromises is key. According to NYU Langone, having clear expectations about housework, arranging life so that you can inhabit separate rooms or have your own space, and negotiating arguments so that you don’t argue in front of the children are just a few important considerations.
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