Corona and Coparenting
I’ve received many questions from single parents, coparents, and stepparents during this historic pandemic and my BEST piece of advice is to protect your household. Social distancing and quarantines are proven to be effective methods of limiting the spread of infectious disease BUT what do you do when your child lives in two totally different households? This is not intended to be legal advice, but be mindful of YOUR specific situation. If you know yours is a high conflict situation, then you do not have as much flexibility as a family that is able to operate in the best interests of their children. Also, depending on your jurisdiction, you may or may not be able to get an emergency custody motion during this pandemic. As a nation, we will get through this BUT we must govern ourselves with integrity and honesty. Also, common sense and decency will take us very far!
While this disease is not deadly (for most people), any type of flu sucks! This is all unchartered territory for the courts so once this Corona scare passes, we may see an increase in family court cases. Wanna hear something amazing!?!
Have you been infected with kindness?
For every negative message I read, I see three that are sharing a story of coparents, stepparents, and blended families showing one another unprecedented KINDNESS. Coparents are being cool. Stepparents are being shown love. And families are coming together for the greater good! Heck, I even have a happy #CoronaCoparenting story of my own! Of course, the usual messy a-sholes will file the usual frivolous contempt charges BUT they won’t get very far. During times of mass panic, “the system” usually does not take too kindly to people that use these times to be petty. If you are worried about being dragged into court because you were unsure how to handle a custody exchange, check out the excerpt below.
One of my awesome friends is a Family Law attorney in Canada and she received this question from a client:
Q: I’m 22 weeks pregnant and due to the coronavirus, I’m told that I have to self isolate for the next 14 days. This coming weekend would be my daughter’s weekend with her father and I asked him if she could stay home with me during this isolation period. He’s not being understanding in any fashion. I’m wondering if I legally can keep her with me for the purpose I have to self isolate. If I send her to his home and she may get exposed to the virus. Currently, in my household, we are being extremely strict with regards to social distancing. I do have sole custody. Any info you can give me is appreciated!
A: I honestly would tell him that you have been medically recommended to remain in your home for a 14-day quarantine which is in line with the Public Health Standards along with the state of emergency declared on Six Nations and Ontario at this time. While you appreciate that he may have missed access, I would remind him that your daughter’s HEALTH is at risk along with that of your unborn baby. His inability to be reasonable can not be tolerated and you are entitled to have good health under these very hard circumstances. I would offer him facetime and/or any other kind of electronic contact during these times at the same time each day or if she wishes to call him. I would even suggest that he spend an hour or so if he wants to read to her or do homework – something that is interactive. If he does not accept it, then kindly tell him that your offer remains open for the duration of the quarantine and self-isolation and that you will be looking to him likely for some extra help when you have your new baby (right)? I’d remind him that the summer will be upon us soon enough and that I’m sure you can negotiate some additional time then. That is all that I would say and that you would keep him posted on access schedule resuming in accordance with medical recommendations and the public state of affairs with each passing week. I hope that helps.
Quick Tips to NOT end up in court post Corona
This is tough because our blended families do not have the luxury of operating as seamlessly as a traditional family (insert sarcasm). Many of us have court orders but none of them outline provisions for a worldwide disaster. Use your best judgment and govern yourself with compassion. Now is not the time to reinforce grievances and poor behavior. Please do not be one of the people that makes Corona about them as opposed to their kids.
- Be open and communicative with the other household. Do not withhold pertinent health information.
- Be honest about symptoms and possible exposure. If you are sick, prevent others from getting ill by removing yourself.
- Arm your family with preventative immune system boosting vitamins and herbs. Also keep Sudafed, antihistamines, and pain relievers close by. You may not have Corona, but it’s still cold, flu, and allergy season.
- Avoid large crowds BUT also be mindful of introducing *new people in your quarantined environment.
- Allow the other household full access to the child. Encourage phone calls, facetimes, etc.
- Prepare to be quarantined for the long haul. No one knows when this will end. By the way, you have enough toilet paper!
- Be compassionate to your coparent because your child could have very well been quarantined at their other home. Do not leave your coparent in the dark because you could very well be relying on them for relief next week.
What does the Coronavirus do to your body?
This particular virus attacks your respiratory system. The coronavirus enters your body through your nose, mouth or eyes. Then it crawls progressively down the bronchial tubes. When the virus reaches the lungs, their mucous membranes become inflamed. That can damage the alveoli or lung sacs and they have to work harder to carry out their function of supplying oxygen to the blood that circulates throughout our body and removing carbon dioxide from the blood so that it can be exhaled. The swelling and the impaired flow of oxygen can cause those areas in the lungs to fill with fluid, pus and dead cells. Pneumonia, an infection in the lung, can occur.
Some people have so much trouble breathing they need to be put on a ventilator. In the worst cases, known as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, the lungs fill with so much fluid that no amount of breathing support can help, and the patient dies. The initial testing regimen in many Chinese hospitals did not always detect infection in the peripheral lungs, so some people with symptoms were sent home without treatment.
“They’d either go to other hospitals to seek treatment or stay home and infect their family,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons there was such a widespread.”
Be careful out there!