When Co-Parenting During Covid Turns into a Game of Control
Courts are still mostly closed, leaving many without recourse when a parenting dispute arises. Ideally, parents are remaining flexible and reasonable on communicating about the parenting schedule. This is an opportunity for parents to work together. But what happens when one parent is using Covid to control the parenting schedule? What if one parent is using a pandemic to exercise control over what the other parents does, who they see, and how they parent.
IS A SOCIAL DISTANCING CONTRACT A GOOD IDEA?
We are seeing a trend of one parent asking for a social distancing contract. This would be an agreement that is signed that sets out what is ok and what isn’t. For example, maybe it says that neither parent will allow anyone into the home who doesn’t live there. But the problem with this is, its controlling. Parents are expected to act in the best interest of their child. And asking for a social distancing contract seems to pass the best interest test. But does it really? Or is just another tool to control the other parent.
CAN A SOCIAL DISTANCING CONTRACT EVEN BE ENFORCED?
The other problem with these contracts is its enforceability. Who is monitoring whether someone came into the house? Who is monitoring if your socially distanced cookout with neighbors was actually socially distanced. How would a court even begin to enforce something like this? Let me give you a hint, they can’t.
Follow your state’s guidelines. Follow your parenting plan but be flexible about switching days that might make more sense. Maybe it makes sense to have less transitions. You can adjust your parenting schedule by agreement but you don’t have to enter into a “social distancing” contract which I believe will just cause more conflict and more reasons for people to run back to court. So don’t feel pressured into signing anything that micro-manages your decision. And Remember, at some point courts will open again. I don’t think judges are going to look kindly on people making unreasonable decisions right now. I don’t think they are going to award inflexibility. So be reasonable. Be flexible. But also don’t be bullied. And above all else, stay child-focused.