Many separated families will be experiencing extra pressure and stresses during the current COVID-19 pandemic. These 10 suggestions can help separated parties work through this difficult time.
- Stay healthy
Educate your children and household on the ways to reduce the risk of spreading of the virus. Wash your hands often and thoroughly, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, avoid close contact with other people, cover your mouth and nose when your cough or sneeze.
Let the other party know that you and all members of your household are following the recommended health guidelines.
- Be mindful
Be mindful that children will have heard much through their schools and media. Children may have trouble processing what is currently happening. Older children whose studies and major social events such as school formals and celebrations have been cancelled may be unsettled and anxious. Younger children can easily become confused and scared. Try to establish an open dialogue with the other party of how you are both trying to manage your children’s state.
- Keep complying with orders
If parenting Orders are in place, you must still endeavour to comply unless you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. If Orders cannot be met because of quarantine or other virus-related circumstances, try and give the other party plenty of notice and an explanation.
- Be flexible
If changeover normally happens at school or sporting events, start planning for another public location that will be suitable. Think about whether you will be required to work from home and whether that is feasible when children are in your care.
If it is not possible for children to spend time with the other party find other ways to try to maintain contact – including phone calls, FaceTime and Skype.
Communicate the steps you are taking in your respective households to limit exposure to the virus and to protect the children. Have an agreed response plan should your child show any symptoms. Try to engage openly and honestly with the other party about any concerns you may have.
If there has been a risk of exposure to the virus, be honest about that. Government mandated responses will be required if you have been exposed and will include isolation or quarantine and may include testing.
- Be accommodating
Think about how you would like the other party to engage with you about these issues, and model that behaviour. If time can’t occur at one point, suggest make up time.
- Stay calm
Take note that parties will react in different ways to the current COVID-19 situation and parties may respond in a way that seems unreasonable to you. Being calm in times of high stress is hard – but you are more likely to reduce the conflict if both parties are making the best effort possible.
- Find new solutions
More than ever, parties need to find compromises in the interests of children. Courts will increasingly have limited availability and dispute resolution services may be hard to access. This may be an opportunity to find new solutions.
- Be understanding
People may lose jobs or experience a reduction in their income. This may impact what is paid by way of child support. Try to be understanding of the other party’s financial situation.
- Be patient
The Government has indicated that this situation is not going to resolve overnight. The way we work, socialise, communicate, and parent will change over the next few weeks and months.
If you need legal advice about this topic or any family law issue, please do not hesitate to contact Macrossan & Amiet.