If you’re getting divorced or already divorced, chances are you have a visitation schedule in place for the kids. Maybe it’s one week at Mom’s, one week at Dad’s, or maybe Dad has the kids every other weekend and Wednesday nights, or maybe you even have a flexible schedule where you play things by ear—although that’s pretty uncommon, especially at the beginning of a divorce. But no matter what your situation is, one thing’s for sure: Custody visitation during Coronavirus (COVID-19) is bringing up a whole new set of issues causing stress, resentment and fear.
Here are some scenarios:
1. Mom is upset because when the kids are with Dad, he lets them have playdates.
2. Dad is upset because Mom works at a hospital and thinks he should have the kids 100% of the time right now to minimize risk.
3. Dad wants his girlfriend to be able to stay over when the kids are with him, but Mom fears she might have it.
The tricky part of all of this is, children of divorce have two homes now, and custody visitation during Coronavirus puts them at risk at both homes. Regardless of differences of opinions, arguments, resentment, anger and other negative feelings, the sad matter of fact is that there’s really nothing either parent can do legally.
Want the solution? I have one word for parents when it comes to custody visitation during Coronavirus (COVID-19): TALK
What I mean is, have an open and honest conversation with your ex.
This is a time to put all your personal feelings, your anger and your resentment for your ex aside for a half hour or so. If you don’t speak to each other, guess what? Now you need to. Take 30 minutes and truly come up with an understanding that you both feel comfortable with at each other’s houses.
Decide on things like:
Who is allowed in the house, what’s your definition of social distancing, how often are your kids going to wash their hands at each of your houses? Are your kids going to visit their aunt or grandparents? (I hope not), are your new spouses going to be at the home? Are their kids going to be there? Are any of your children more at risk when it comes to COVID-19?
These are all questions that need to be addressed, discussed and agreed upon and this needs to be done without lawyers. There’s no time for pettiness or legal action right now.
Another thing you can do is decide to keep the kids at one person’s house, and the other parent can be welcome to come over any time, provided he or she is being safe and following the CDC guidelines.
Coronavirus is a once in a lifetime event, and the only way to maximize your changes of getting through it safely and healthy is to follow all the rules. There are no guarantees, and not everything is in our control, but do what is in your control. Follow the guidelines of the CDC. That’s the only way to protect your kids. Pettiness, fighting, anger and meanness doesn’t help right now.
I went through a divorce 11 years ago, and following the custody visitation plan wasn’t easy at first. There was a lot of hostility, resentment, and anger. I can’t even imagine how I would have felt if we’d have had to adhere to the custody visitation during Coronavirus.
It’s not easy to co-parent, and it’s certainly not easy to feel out of control, meaning that when your kids are with your ex you have no idea what is going on. You don’t know if they are washing their hands, you don’t know if they are being exposed to Coronavirus from your ex’s new girlfriend’s kids, and you don’t know if they are leaving the house when they shouldn’t be.
I know firsthand the frustration and anxiety that goes with not knowing.
My advice is that you have the talk, and then that’s all you can do. Try to remember that no matter how much resentment your ex has for you (or vice versa), he or she wants the best for the kids. He or she does not want the kids to get sick. Right? That should bring you comfort.
A phrase I’m hearing a lot these days is, “We’re all in this together.” This might sound ironic in the face of divorce, but COVID-19 is stronger than a bad divorce. What I’m saying is, instead of fighting with each other, now is the time to put personal feelings aside and fight Coronavirus.
Like this article? Check out, “Getting Divorced During Coronavirus?”A Few Things to Think About
What advice do you have for those of us dealing with an abusive, controlling narcissist (possibly even sociopath) who honestly doesn’t have the kids’ best interest? One of his favorite weapons is refusing to communicate. He ran off with another woman after I was diagnosed with cancer when our kids were 6 and 10 and he hasn’t called them or even responded to their texts or handwritten letters since then (in over a year and a half). He asked for 7 hours visitation every two weeks and the kids are treated like hostages — screamed at if they try to talk to him about anything important to them. Last visitation one came home with bruises he inflicted and he’s now being investigated for child abuse. Shockingly, visitations legally continue until CPS determines their case, which is put on hold. I reached out to try to talk to him last week and got a snarky response from his attorney , “FYI — my client is uninterested in talking to your client except through me”. So I tried to talk through his attorney but no answer for a week now. What else can you recommend? My children are terrified to go with him and I feel so helpless to give them any real protection.