The COVID-19 global health crisis has stretched parents to their limits. Along with the human tragedy of this pandemic, parents have experienced the practical implications daily for half a year. At the risk of understating the problem, parents have had their options limited in a significant way.
Juggling Work With the Kids’ Needs
COVID-19 has taken away choices when it comes to childcare. While remote and telework have become a new normal for some people, this is not an option for everyone. Parents have to work to make money, but they also need arrangements to care for their children when they go to their workplace. But many in-person schools and daycares are not fully open (or have limited capacity) and other private childcare options can be far too expensive.
Even for parents who can work remotely, the demands of children’s online classes and attendance requirements are a full-time tremendous distraction. Kids need supervision and often lack the executive functioning to participate well in their “Zoom” classes. They draw on the screen, leave off-topic comments, unmute themselves, and engage in other behaviors expected of children, but which are not conducive to a productive classroom experience. Regardless of whether you want schools to resume in-person, the whole experience is stressful for parents.
In these times, healthy co-parenting can go a long way toward easing each other’s burden. Parents who are willing and able to actively communicate can offer each other flexibility when it comes to childcare. This may involve agreeing or modifying a parenting plan to split the burden of the child’s school schedule. If this does not work, it may be appropriate to increase child support to cover other types of childcare. For example, some parents are sending their children to private schools that offer full-time in-person classes or forming “pods” with other parents to hire a teacher to privately teach a small group of kids.
COVID-19 has also created disagreements between parents about whether to send children to in-person school or childcare, about social distancing, and regarding other safety-related issues that have arisen with COVID-19. These issues did not exist before March of this year, and a pandemic certainly wasn’t a consideration when people reached child custody agreements or obtained orders.
Medical and educational decisions fall within the realm of “legal custody” of children. A parenting agreement or child custody order should spell out whether parents share joint legal custody and how disagreements are to be resolved. But if only one parent has sole legal custody, then that parent has the sole authority to make educational and medical decisions. These are unusual and unprecedented times, and a family lawyer can help explore whether seeking a modification of your custody order is a viable option for you.
Contact New Direction Family Law
If you are interested in modifying your parenting agreement or existing child custody order, contact New Direction Family Law. These are unusual times and we understand the strains that parents are feeling. Our attorneys are available to listen to you and to provide you guidance about your best options. We serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. If you need help, call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or visit us online through our website.