As we all navigate through the pandemic, social distancing, and virtual schooling, we are faced with day-to-day decisions that may have been easier to answer just a few weeks ago. Whether you have school-age children or college-age children who returned home early, there are the logistics of who will work in what room, at what time, and on what device. If you are able to work from home on top of that, then you have to determine when you work, how you handle conference calls or Zoom calls, and how to assist your child with their own schoolwork or teacher conferences.
As if that is not enough to juggle, if you and your ex are co-parenting during this time, there can likely be additional stress and potentially conflict. We have been handling a lot of questions about these issues over the past three weeks and hope to provide some guidance for those in a similar situation.
The Florida Supreme Court, as well as the 7th Circuit Court, have issued orders to deal with “emergency” matters first, and any non-emergency issues will not be set for a hearing, at least not quickly. Thus, family law attorneys have been advised to counsel clients and assist in resolving disputes between spouses.
Time-sharing schedules and visitation changes
Most of the standard time-sharing schedules may not be working for your family right now, because of work shifting to virtual, as well as schooling. We advise women to propose a schedule that will accommodate your work schedule and the children’s schooling, even if it is very different than the schedule in your parenting plan. If you need to work the early part of the day, see if your spouse can alternate either days or each of you taking a “shift” to handle your own work and schooling. If either of you has flexibility in your work schedule that allows you to work on the weekend or evening, try and arrange the time sharing so that your ex-husband has the children while you are working, or vice versa.
Educational decisions and virtual schooling
Most parenting plans will designate both parents to share in decisions involving education, religion, and healthcare. With the current virtual school environment, which most likely is not addressed in your particular parenting plan, there may be disagreements on how your children will handle school and assignments as well as communication with the teachers. From my experience, there is a lot of hands-on time required of parents for younger children, and it is best if you and your spouse can agree to share in that load so that one parent is not overburdened. I suggest dividing the subject matters by parent so that the responsibility for assisting in homework and projects are easier to manage. Also, make sure each parent has a login for their child, so you can both be informed of what is required of your children and the feedback from the teacher.
Medical and health concerns
In light of social distancing and CDC and government recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you and your former spouse will need to communicate any concerns either one of you may have about friends and family interactions as well as any potential exposure to infection. I recommend having a discussion with your former spouse and try to agree on whether or not your children will go to the grocery store, which friends they will play with, and which family members they will interact with during the pandemic. Also discuss your potential exposure if you are going to work, what precautions you are taking, and what your former spouse is doing to be responsible and stay healthy.
During this time, we are more susceptible to arguments or feeling stressed, so know that if you are unable to effectively communicate or resolve an issue, we at Florida Women’s Law Group are working virtually and will work with you to come up with creative solutions during this time.
About the Author
Heather Quick is the founder and CEO of Florida Women’s Law Group, the only family law firm that advocates for women only in North Florida. The firm educates and empowers women on their rights and the law so they can find the strength to endure the process and end up better financially and emotionally. Heather Quick has been a licensed Florida attorney for the past 20 years with the majority of her practice over the years being in family law.