Custody in the time of coronavirus
March 18, 2020 9:58 PM   Subscribe

How are parents and kids handling custody swaps in this new situation? Has anything changed or should it?

My son, a high school student, divides his time between his dad's house and mine, moving once a week. He's on an early spring break right now and will be in school online for April at least (and maybe the rest of the year, depending on how all this goes). His dad and I are amicable co-parents and are both healthy right now. I'm also anticipating that we might have a shelter in place order in the city or state pretty soon.

Should kids be moving back and forth as normal? Has anyone experienced this or have any insight? Or thought through it?
posted by bluedaisy to Human Relations (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Australian perspective, but a good article regarding things to think about and take into consideration, about this issue. While your jurisdiction will have your own rules, I still think the article has wisdom.

From a purely practical perspective: if you were 3 sharing a home, you are effectively sharing a biome to some extent. So if your son is able to go from isolated house to isolated car to isolated house, without meeting others, it just means that you are isolating across two households. It's the contact with others that's where disease can move, and we make choices about which of us just come as a combo package.
posted by freethefeet at 10:44 PM on March 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Quarantines and custody agreements: How do divorced parents handle coronavirus? (Today / Yahoo News, Mar. 18, 2020)
Family law attorneys Kelly Frawley and Emily Pollock, who practice at Kasowitz Benson Torres in New York City, handle family and custodial matters every day, and say when it comes to making decisions about coronavirus and custody, communication is key.

"The first and foremost concern should be the health of your family," said Frawley. "It is important to be cooperative with any schedule changes, even if it results in less parenting time for you and more parenting time for the other parent."

"Understand that you and your co-parent may have different views about how to approach this pandemic and neither of you may be wrong or right, so it's important to be calm," Frawley continued. "Your child is also navigating a pandemic and a change in their everyday routine and you do not want to add to their stress and anxiety — a united front between the parents is best."

[...] Pollock says it's all about being transparent about your concerns, but guided by what is ultimately best for your children.

"Try to be creative and work out arrangements where if one party has more time now because you want to minimize transitions, you agree that when we return to a normal schedule, the party who didn't get to see the children for as much time has make-up time," said Pollock. "Also, make sure the children have regular phone, FaceTime, email or text contact with the other parent because this time is likely to be very anxiety-provoking for the child and having this contact can allay concerns about the other parent's well-being."
posted by katra at 10:45 PM on March 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Assuming exposure on transportation isn't a problem, I'd think your current custody schedule works. In fact, it could be a welcome change of pace for everyone if this goes on for awhile. What does your son want? If he's really nervous, then perhaps he could stay at one place and the other parent could come visit. If he wants to see you both more, then able he could visit each of you for half the week. It's such a new and scary situation but, with continued good communication and flexibility, it sounds like you'll find something that works at this less-than-ideal time.
posted by smorgasbord at 11:27 PM on March 18, 2020

If the parents are still working, I would think you should take into account who comes in contact with more people each day and is bringing back potential germs. If one is working from home, it may be better to stay there to minimize exposure.
posted by maxg94 at 6:23 AM on March 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

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