Co-Parenting During the COVID-19 Crisis

Photo of Stephen MacKenzie

In his open letter dated March 24, 2020, Chief Justice Casey indicated that it is important, during the current Covid-19 crisis and corresponding Stay-at-Home Advisory, for children to spend time with both of their parents. While this provided welcome clarity for upcoming parenting exchanges, it also created an opportunity – especially for parties operating under a parenting schedule by way of a temporary order and in the midst of contested litigation concerning custody issues – to put contested litigation issues aside and create a parenting arrangement (perhaps even a temporary, equal parenting) that more effectively deals with the reality of school/child-care closures and the requirements of working remotely (for both parents and students).

While the current Stay-at-Home Advisory is set to expire on May 18, 2020, the reality for many families is that school is closed for the remainder of the year and child-care (and summer camps) are closed until on or about July 1, 2020. In essence, where appropriate, an equal co-parenting arrangement may make sense during this stressful and difficult time and, perhaps, may ultimately serve as an indicator as to whether the same is practical after the current Covid-19 crisis reaches its inevitable end. While the courts may be physically closed to litigants for non-emergency related matters and ongoing efforts are being made to accommodate litigants by way of telephonic/video conferences, the reality is that going to court may not be an option for quite some time. However, there are more flexible processes, such as mediation and conciliation, which can help parties reach even interim solutions subject to a final determination by the court, if necessary.

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