Parenting after separation presents challenges to parents and now COVID-19 adds another layer to navigate during an already stressful situation.
Anxiety over possible illness, job losses, home schooling of the children, financial circumstances and fear of the unknown during this crisis can lead to an escalation of tensions.
It is important to be aware that this may happen and if it does, take one step back and reassess the situation before replying to your partner in anger.
It’s a challenge to continue to parent in a flexible and co-operative manner but your children will thank you for taking the time and making the effort to place them first and foremost above COVID-19.
The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court continue to remain open and have modified many of the Court procedures in the wake of the crises.
Similarly, the Local Courts continue to hear criminal matters and domestic violence matters.
So, if you do the crime, you do the time.
Top 10 practical suggestions to see you through the crisis
- Mental health alert
- Be alert not alarmed
- If you are having difficulty in coping with either family law issues, domestic violence issues or the anxiety and uncertainty of living with the present crisis, seek advice from your family doctor or a counsellor. It can make a world of difference if you receive the correct advice and treatment from a professional. Happy parent, happy child
- Keep up to date with the government restrictions
- This will assist you in keeping safe and keeping your children safe. Know the rules and follow them.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate!
- Now is the time to put aside your differences and focus on keeping your children and each other safe.
- It is not the time to give in to anxiety and use the crisis to escalate tension.
- Inform each other of possible exposure to COVID-19.
- Agree on guidelines to keep the children safe
- Safety comes first.
- Look at the activities that the children are involved in and agree on what is appropriate and what is not, in accordance with the government guidelines.
- Play dates may have to wait for another time.
- Be co-operative and flexible with your arrangements
- Parents need to remain child focused, safety focused and arrangements for the children should remain co-operative and flexible.
- Be reasonable, be accommodating and be practical in your arrangements.
- Plan for home schooling
- Many of our clients have already commenced home schooling on a voluntary basis. This may change depending on the increase in the spread of the virus.
- Plan an area designated to home schooling. Many schools are conducting online lessons so check your children’s school website and prepare by having the correct equipment so the children can continue with their education.
- Be patient with your children.
- Plan for lockdown
- You can survive lockdown if you plan ahead. Plan activities for the children and invest in board games and other games to keep them interested when not home schooling.
- Use this time to establish open communications with your children and strengthen your relationships.
- Listen to their fears and concerns and talk through with age appropriate language.
- Connect with them, now is the time.
- Plan if one or both parents becomes ill
- Have a contingency plan for the care of the children. Could another family member assist if both parents become ill?
- Talk to other family members about helping if necessary. Ensure you identify family members that are vulnerable and not suitable to assist.
- Ensure that both parents have all the information relating to the children’s medical needs, medications, prescriptions, name of doctors, medical appointments scheduled and any other relevant information regarding the children’s health including allergies.
- It is also handy to have a list of food likes and dislikes and routines for each child.
- Plan if the children become ill
- Have all medical history ready including medications currently prescribed. Share that information with the other parent. There may be an emergency and no time to obtain this information on the run.
- Know the closest hospital, doctor, fever clinic and the quickest route. Share this with the other parent.
- Inform the other parent if a child becomes ill as soon as possible. Although you are no longer partners you still remain parents.
- Court orders and Meeting your obligations
- If you have court orders in place regarding the children, you must follow the court orders unless there is a reasonable excuse that applies.
- “Lockdown” means “Lockdown”, use common sense and flexibility to get through this.
If you are having difficulty in interpreting your orders or whether you will be in breach, contact our family law team for assistance.