Tips on Co-parenting and Homeschooling During the COVID-19 Pandemic
There’s no doubt about it: even though the beginning of school is just around the corner, school openings are still in flux and there aren’t many clear answers to be found.
Parents don’t even need to look as far as school to find confusing situations, though. Even sharing custody during the pandemic is a tricky situation. Technically, the act of passing children back and forth between households at the moment goes directly against standard health and safety advice.
Our team obviously advocates for what’s best for children and their families. Many families are sharing custody during the pandemic in order to maintain a sense of normalcy and to ensure childcare and income. It’s an individual decision.
With all of that said, sharing custody during the pandemic can look more or less safe depending on what steps parents take. We’d love to take this time to offer some advice on distance learning (or homeschooling) and coparenting during the pandemic.
The Pandemic Is Not an Opportunity to Overlook Custody Orders
This is one of the most important things we’ll share, so we want to get it out into the open outright. Most judges across the country agree: the pandemic is not an excuse or opportunity to take advantage of custody orders. If you’re a parent looking to minimize your custodial time or to minimize another parent’s custodial time due to the pandemic, you won’t have much luck with a judge.
Basic Tips For Coparenting During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Things to keep in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Assess supervised visitations: Supervised visitations involve a third party; and, usually, the parents have no idea where that third party has been or what they’ve been exposed to. Visitations like these should be stopped or minimized; if they continue, shift them to include the least amount of physical contact possible (we always recommend telephone or video chat meetings)
- Understand that essential workers responding to overtime opportunities and requirements should not be forced to pay more child support: The crisis surrounding the pandemic is deepening; people are getting sick and missing work in essential positions. As a result, overtime opportunities (and mandates) are becoming more popular. The essential workers who step in for overtime should not pay more child support because they are supporting response efforts to the crisis
- Parents may become ill or illness-exposed: Some parents care for other family members or may be immunocompromised themselves; facilitate video calls and other forms of communication and consider alternate custody arrangements if one parent is at risk of falling ill
Parents should do their best to stay healthy, mindful, and compliant with safety regulations during the pandemic. It’s the best way to keep their children safe and promote safe, healthy coparenting.
Parents are Approaching Distance Learning In Unique Ways
Many parents are taking their own approach to handling distance learning and homeschooling. Some of the solutions that have worked for families include:
- Pods: Some parents are choosing to form “school pods” with a handful of other families; with this setup, parents come together to pool money to hire an educational professional sometimes (like a teacher in the mornings) and someone else to support learning at other times (like a tutor or college student in the afternoon); pods come with a predictable schedule and structure
- Microschools: The term “microschool” isn’t some official word with rigid requirements; microschools look different depending on where they are and who’s in charge. Usually, microschools are small neighborhood schools with fewer than ten children enrolled; lots of people marry the microschool and pandemic pod concept
Plenty of parents don’t have the time, funds, or access to even one of these– let alone all three. At our offices, we’re prepared to help when unique solutions fall through (or aren’t available). Ask one of our lawyers about coparenting and homeschooling during the pandemic today.
You Don’t Have to Have Cash or a Community to Facilitate Distance Learning During the Pandemic
Homeschooling with no help or money
There’s a lot of debate about whether children learning at home during the current pandemic counts as homeschooling; but whether you consider it homeschooling or distance learning, it’s important to understand that you have options when it comes to educating your child. Even if you don’t have a wealth of resources at your disposal, there are ways to help your child and keep your coparenting relationship healthy.
If you can, look for online resources to help supplement the learning materials your child is given. The internet is full of free opportunities to learn. You can look for lesson plans to help you, activities to help your kids, etc.
You should also develop a structure and strategy for learning that’s easy to understand in both homes. If possible, try to make the learning setups identical– your child probably only went to one school and followed one structure before, so you shouldn’t change that now if you can avoid it.
Don’t forget: you can optimize your exact homeschooling and coparenting structures to meet your needs and benefit your child during the pandemic. If learning might be more difficult in one home, a child can homeschool primarily in one home and study in the other. Some children homeschool at one home in the morning and homeschool in the afternoon at the other.
Coparenting During the Pandemic Will Be Easier If You…
- …increase communication with your coparent when necessary
- …are empathetic to your coparent
- …are willing to make compromises
- …avoid trying to force your coparenting views onto the other coparent
- …clearly communicate household health and safety issues
Betsy A. Fischer, LLC: Family Law Services In Jefferson Parish and Orleans Parish
Our team also handles cases in St. Tammany Parish, St. Charles Parish, and other surrounding areas
If you have questions about the legalities of homeschooling or co-parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic, our team may be able to help. Reach out to Betsy A. Fischer, LLC via the web or over the phone at 504-780-8232 today. We handle:
- Child support
- Community property
- Other family law matters