Shared parenting can be difficult at the best of times, even more so during a global pandemic like the coronavirus. In these challenging times, it can be difficult to keep a level head. We have comprised a list of coping strategies for parents sharing custody to help remind you of what you can do to relieve stress and anxiety for all parties involved.
1.Uphold your parental duties
A global pandemic such as the COVID-19 outbreak is not an excuse to overlook the terms and conditions of your parenting orders. It is still important to fulfil your obligations unless there is a genuine and valid reason why that’s not possible. If you are unable to meet your parental duties due to school closures, government travel restrictions, self-isolation or quarantine, apply the laws of common sense. Be sure to provide your ex-partner with a logical explanation and give as much notice as possible to allow them to make alternate arrangements. See our blog on interstate travel for parents who may live outside of Queensland.
Taking a flexible approach and being adaptable is important when we are undergoing societal changes. In our generation, we’ve never been forced to self-isolate or quarantine on a global scale. There are a lot of new regulations and restrictions in place and it’s a steep learning curve for everyone. Be prepared to put temporary measures in place and be versatile. If your children are unable to see a parent or guardian, organise to stay in touch via video chat or phone calls.
3.Make sure you’re on the same page
Differences can arise if you can’t agree on how to deal with this crisis as a family. Talk about what your expectations are, how much you want your children to know about what’s going on, and what’s considered to be acceptable behaviour during this time. For example; you may want to shield your children from the extent of the virus whereas your ex might want to be more honest than you’re comfortable with. You may want to take your kids out of school. Your ex may disagree with you, wanting to keep things as normal as possible. Whatever you decide to do has to be mutually agreed upon to prevent unnecessary conflict.
4.Be available for your kids
We are facing a serious health crisis and it can be a scary time for your children. It’s scary enough for those of us who are adults. Now, more than ever, your children need you to be present and available to answer their questions and provide reassurance. It can be harder for those with teenagers who are isolated from their friends and experiencing disappointment from major school events such as formals, athletic events, birthday parties cancelled. Even your adult children who need to cancel weddings, holidays or find themselves jobless need your support.
5.Protect your health
The Australian government has enlisted strict regulations to protect us and help stop the spread of COVID-19. Stay home where possible, wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face and keep your distance from others. It’s important to do what you can to protect your health and the health of your children. Lead by example. With shared custody, it’s important that both parents uphold the same hygiene standards. For a comprehensive list of the government health guidelines during the coronavirus outbreak, please click the following link. government health guidelines about coronavirus (COVID-19)
In the case where you or your ex-partner, or one of the children contract coronavirus, agree on a plan of action ahead of time. Where will you self-isolate? Who will carry out your parenting duties on your behalf if you are unable? What happens if your child shows symptoms? If you both contract the virus, who will look after the children?
7.Honestly is the best policy
Coronavirus is highly contagious, and while you may get only mild symptoms, your children or those around you, may be more susceptible. If you are unwell, experiencing symptoms, or may have been exposed to the virus, be honest with your ex-partner. You are required to adhere to the government mandatory requirements if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
This pandemic is on a scale of nothing like we’ve experienced before, so there’s no rule book and that everyone deals with stress and anxiety differently. You don’t have to like your ex but they are important in your children’s life. Showing a little empathy, understanding and compassion will make life a little easier. It will also reduce the number of disagreements.
9.Patience is a virtue
No one truly knows how long this COVID-19 outbreak will last. Most are simply guessing, but there’s no overnight solution. We will come to know a new normal. The way we communicate and socialise is going to evolve. Explaining to your children that don’t understand why they can’t see a parent, grandparents or attend sporting activities like before is going to require plenty of patience. You’ll need patience when your ex-partner requires you to make sacrifices or when circumstances prevent shared parenting issues from being carried out. You’ll need patience when job losses mean you’re not receiving your entitled child support payments. You’ll need patience if your case is going before the courts. There may be lengthy delays.
10.Be the solution
Unless you’re still best friends, shared parenting will always have its ups and downs. Be prepared to work together and focus on solutions, not creating problems. At all times, ask yourself “What is in the best interest of our children?” Put yourself in the other parent’s shoes. What are you prepared to compromise on? If you can’t compromise, involve a mediator.
The most important thing to remember is “We are all in this together!” We’re all experiencing these life-changing moments. If you are not coping or these 10 coping strategies don’t help your shared parenting responsibilities any easier, please contact us. We are open for business, however, we are strictly adhering to the government regulations for social distancing. #inthistogether
Source: Legal Aid Queensland