Co-parenting during COVID19 Coronavirus

COVID19 Coronavirus co-parenting challenges

Co-parenting can bring its challenges. The current COVID19 Coronavirus sweeping the globe is something that seems unlikely to improve a co-parenting relationship.
But we don’t think it necessarily has to be that way.

Coronavirus presents challenges for co-parenting

Some co-parents are struggling right now.
What do you do if one parent has to go into self-isolation? Do you still have changeover between the parents?
What if there are immune-compromised grandparents who could be put at risk?

If you have parenting orders in place, you must follow them unless you have a ‘reasonable excuse’.
There is no definition of ‘reasonable excuse’ – it depends on the individual circumstances.
So that doesn’t offer much help!

What if school closes and your changeovers are supposed to be at school?
If one parent decides not to follow the orders, the legal remedy for the other parent is to bring contravention proceedings in the Family Law Courts.
However, you are exceptionally unlikely to get a court date that would enforce the orders now.
Given the new protocols in the Family Law Courts to deal with coronavirus a contravention hearing is probably quite some time down the track.
While you are waiting for the hearing, what is happening to your co-parenting relationship? (Hint: taking the other parent to court rarely results in an improvement in the co-parenting relationship!)

Coronavirus presents opportunities for co-parenting

We think that there is actually an opportunity presented by the COVID19 coronavirus for co-parents to change they way they deal with difficult situations.
Whilst a crisis can bring out the worst in people, it can also bring out their best.
Change requires innovation.
Try something new, because repeating what you have always done is not necessarily going to work during a crisis.

Problem solving is key

One of the best things to strengthen co-parenting during the coronavirus situation, is to look at this as a problem to be solved, rather than a decision to be made by one parent.
You have children together. You both love them and want them, and your families, to remain healthy and safe.
Rather than waving around parenting orders, and threatening the other parent with a breach, or insisting the children can’t go to the other parent, this is an opportunity to discuss the problem, and come up with some solutions.
Remember, it’s for a short time period, not forever.

What if I can't communicate with the co-parent?

When we work with parents in parenting coordination one of the key themes is improving (or sometimes, establishing) communication.
It is not unusual for co-parents to struggle with communication, but one of the keys to protecting your children from the impact of your divorce is have good communication and low conflict.
There are many things you can do to improve communication.
One way to start is by using the BIFF response method for emails (and stop texting!)
Another is to put yourself in the shoes of the other parent.    If the situation was reversed, how would you want to be treated?
Some other books we recommend to clients struggling with co-parenting communication, are The High Conflict Co-Parenting Survival Guide and Mindful Co-Parenting – a Child-Friendly Path through Divorce.
coronavirus coparenting

Consider Mediation or Parenting Coordination

It takes two people to communicate and despite your best efforts, you may not be able to effective problem solve your way out of the co-parenting challenges presented by the COVD19 coronavirus situation.

This is where an independent third party may be needed.
Mediation (Family Dispute Resolution) is one option.
Another option is Parenting Co-ordination, a process encouraged by the former Family Court Chief Justice.

Mediation is focussed on facilitating an agreement or parenting orders.

Parenting Coordination is focussed more on education and communication, and problem solving solutions to situations arising from parenting plans or orders – not about permanent changes.
This is where Parenting Coordination is perfectly placed to assist co-parenting during the COVID19 situation.
Unlike Mediation, which usually booked for a half or full day, Parenting Co-ordination is booked in blocks of 45 minutes per parent. It is also more flexible and time can be used face-to-face (or video at the moment), by phone or email.

In financially uncertain times, Parenting Coordination offers a potentially more cost-effective solution.

If you need to negotiate longer term issues, then Mediation is likely to be a better option.

During COVID19 Coronavirus we are using video conferencing

We can work with you in both Parenting Co-ordination and Mediation via video-conferencing. The Our Family in Two Homes Resource package has helped many parents focus their thinking and improve co-parenting, whilst working towards a parenting agreement.

To find out which process is best going to help you and your family, book a free Parenting Resolution options videoconference online now.

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