It’s tough enough to be a parent 24/7 when you have a spouse with whom you can share the load. It must be tougher still for divorced parents who temporarily have sole physical custody of their children because of the pandemic.
States like New Mexico, Texas, New Hampshire, and Florida have a general presumption of joint custody. This means that family courts often award joint custody to divorced parents in the belief that this arrangement is in the best interest of their children (special consideration is given when a parent is charged with domestic violence, has mental or physical needs, lives far from the children’s school, and other crucial factors).
There’s no question that families in joint custody arrangements were affected when the COVID-19 pandemic started, and cities imposed strict lockdowns. Even with travel restrictions and social distancing rules now easing up, parents who want to avoid the risk of having anyone in the family catching the virus will want to keep their children at home instead of shuttling them back and forth between two households.
The Children’s Health and Safety Comes First
Temporarily stopping co-parenting duties because of the pandemic may be the smartest thing to do if you live in cities and states with high infection rates. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, for example, the number of COVID-19-positive patients that require intensive care exceeds the total number of ICU beds in the state as of this writing.
Therefore, parents sharing joint custody in Albuquerque would be justified in contacting their child custody attorneys and modifying their parenting plans.
Staying Connected through Technology
Once the arrangements for the modified parenting plans are ironed out, the challenge is now for parents to carry out the rest of their parenting duties while one of them stays in isolation. Fortunately for parents who cannot physically be with their children during the pandemic, technology has made it possible for them to stay connected no matter the circumstances.
Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, Video Calls on Messenger — these platforms have made video conferencing less of a novelty and more of an every-day activity. The ability to see and hear the voices of the people you love is a balm to the soul at a time when meeting them in person isn’t an option. Since these are mobile apps, children can receive calls on their mobile phones and join in on video calls even if they are busy doing something in different parts of the house.
Video conferencing also makes it possible to hold virtual activities together, like celebrating birthdays, playing musical duets, baking, playing parlor games, and more.
One of the things that many families who cannot be together during pandemic have become fond of is watching television series and movies together. They subscribe to family accounts for video-on-demand platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and the new Disney+. By sharing and watching movies and shows together, distant families have something entertaining to discuss at the next phone call or video conference. This can be a fun bonding opportunity between children and parents in isolation.
The multiplayer online game, Among Us, has become popular in recent months. A “social deduction game” with simple graphics, it awakened people’s competitiveness and inner sleuth (and for some, their inner villain), becoming a favorite online game among friends, families, co-workers, and even virtual strangers on the Internet.
Chances are children already know about Among Us and other popular online games like Trivia Royale, Monopoly, and Fortnite. They will be thrilled to be permitted to play these games. Family games tend to produce epic stories of betrayal, impressive gaming prowess, and heroism that they will surely remember fondly.
Deprived of the ability to have concerts and perform before a crowd, many famous singers and artists held virtual concerts instead, both free and for a fee. Some live-streamed, some pre-taped, these online concerts are a refreshing change for a society that has grown wary of large crowds that are jam-packed in one venue.
These online concerts would be great for parents and kids to watch together. There’s no need to dress up or stand in line outside the venue for hours, plus everyone can enjoy any food and drink they want while watching!
The pandemic has made life extra-challenging this year. However, if divorced parents agree to work together and use technology to their advantage, COVID-19 will not weaken their relationships with their children.