When you’re getting divorced or divorced, parenting time is something that is usually court ordered or agreed upon in mediation. In other words, the schedule that you and your ex set up is usually bound by law. But does that apply to parenting time during COVID-19?
What I’m saying is, what if because of Coronavirus, one parent wants to change the parenting time to keep the kids safe and everyone healthy? That’s the case for this reader:
I am vigilantly following the stay at home order, and cleaning, wearing gloves when out, etc. My ex continues to go back and forth to his fiancés apartment in the city and into and out of her elevator and garage to his garage in his apartment building in the suburbs. He sleeps there and vice versa. He refuses to stop going and he is also an attorney, not divorce, but he then threatens me about his “parenting time” and putting me in contempt.
If all week I feel my kids are safe at my house and that one dinner and overnight a week then exposes them and they come home and expose me, who will take care of them and who will take care of me? He’s the type who would tell me to figure it out. My main question is, do you know if there is any new law or anything else that would protect my children from going there due to his refusal to follow the stay at home order?
First of all, even in normal times (not COVID-19 times), parents can experience three things when the kids are with the ex: stress, fear and frustration. Why? Lack of control. I actually wrote an article on this topic, in that I think this is one of the most difficult aspects of divorce.
When your kids are with your ex, you have no idea (and no say) in what’s happening. When my kids were really little, I remember fearing that they would get sick after going to their dad’s because he would keep them up late, feed them junk food, not clean his house, etc. So, obviously, parenting time during COVID-19 magnifies stress, fear and frustration immensely. Think about it. There’s nothing you can do!!! It’s an awful feeling.
Here is how I look at parenting time during COVID-19:
1. I can’t offer legal advice.
This reader should call her attorney and ask what her options are. Although I don’t think legally there is anything she can do to change the parenting time order, I might be wrong.
2. Control what you can control.
Sounds like she is doing a great job of following the CDC guidelines, so that should be the focus. You can’t control anyone else’s behavior but your own. That might be hard to hear in this scary time of COVID-19, but it truly applies to everything in life.
3. Remember that your ex loves your children and would never want to hurt them.
He or she might despise you, but they want your kids to be safe and healthy.
4. Have faith.
Pray. I believe prayer is powerful in keeping us all healthy and safe.
I vividly remember my own frustration, fear and stress during parenting time, and I wish I wouldn’t have spent so much time focused on those feelings, and instead heeded the above advice.
COVID-19 is stressful and fearful and frustrating enough as it is. To be going through a divorce or newly divorced during this time doubles these emotions, I’m sure.
The good news is, COVID-19 will not last forever. It will end and you will be OK and so will your kids. And your frustration, fear and stress of parenting time will go back to the normal issues, like “Are the kids brushing their teeth over there?” “Is the new girlfriend trying to be their mom?” and “Are they eating donuts for breakfast and burgers for lunch?” Those days can’t get here soon enough.
Like this article? Check out, “How to Coparent with Someone Who Hurt You”