How Remote Learning Can Impact Co-Parenting
Over 7.8 million people in the United States have contracted COVID-19 as of mid-October 2020, grinding much of normal life to a halt. Though children have largely resumed school remotely, this change has presented many challenges to co-parents. Discussing these challenges is a must for those who want to successfully navigate the crisis.
Some of the most common distance learning disruptions for co-parents are among the most obvious. These are the issues that are going to wreak havoc with the careful balancing that is necessary for co-parenting, and they will generally have to be solved through the efforts of each parent. Such disruptions include the children no longer taking the bus to and from a parent’s home, children not being able to see the usual babysitters because of social distancing requirements, or even difficulties that come from having to use technology that is unfamiliar to one or both of the parents.
The truth is that education is rarely an easy topic for co-parents, even when they are on the same page, so there will have to be changes made to daily life that won’t necessarily impact the existing parenting plan. It may be necessary for one or both parents to reach out to one another (or a divorce lawyer) to discuss new solutions or make adjustments that could have a minor impact on the plans that have already been put in place during prior discussions.
Responsibilities and Rights
More pressing are those disruptions that are going to impact the responsibilities and rights of the parents as put forth in a parenting agreement. Distance learning is going to put a significant amount of stress on all parties involved because it is going to require an entirely new type of parental decision-making to succeed. Parents will be forced to make educational decisions every day that simply might not be covered in the plans that were put in place when custody was first decided.
One of the biggest decisions that will have to be made will occur when, and if, school districts open. If parents are given a choice to send their kids back or keep them at home, it’s not always necessarily clear how individuals who share joint physical and legal custody will make that decision. Parents won’t be able to split the decision in this case, and even if they could, doing so would be ineffective. The basic right to decide where your child goes to school may well be disrupted by this pandemic.
Ability and Presence
Distance learning will also bring with it a major parenting change due to the amount of time the impacted children will be at home. If your child is a distance learner, he or she will need someplace to do schoolwork and study. Co-parents must now decide if they have living situations that are conducive to this kind of education and what’s going to happen if either parent goes back to working in person while the children are still going to school online.
A parent who typically has custody on the weekends, for example, may not necessarily be too impacted. Parents who tend to switch custody weekly or by the semester, on the other hand, are going to have to figure out whether their children can adequately learn as they switch back and forth. School does tend to give a certain sense of stability to children who move between homes, and the lack of stability is going to have an impact on the entire family. Without a clear plan in place, this can quickly become chaotic and disruptive to the lives of all who are involved.
Quarantine and Custody Challenges
Who gets custody during a quarantine? What happens if a child is forced to social distance because of an impacted family member and cannot travel to the other parent’s house? These are important questions that don’t have easy answers. Although people need to follow the laws surrounding public safety and use common sense, there’s no doubt that parents are going to see their custody dates disrupted anytime a child is forced to isolate for two weeks. Given that these aren’t just questions of custody but of safety, one must expect the discussions here to be quite serious. Unfortunately, there are unlikely to be any easy answers.
Distance learning is going to cause problems for most co-parents even if they are small ones. Anything relating to the COVID-19 pandemic will eventually lead to a reevaluation of plans, and custody arrangements are no exception. If you need help with custody arrangements or other family matters, make sure to contact the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner to consult a divorce lawyer in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, either by phone at (215) 886-1266 or email via our contact page.