PARSIPPANY, N.J., Jan. 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — During the Covid-19 pandemic, divorced parents have learned the hard way that custody and parenting time arrangements require great flexibility to endure and successfully protect children‘s best interests in the event of a public health emergency.
In her new feature article for the New Jersey Law Journal, “Post-Pandemic, Child Custody Agreements Will Never Be The Same,” Bari Z. Weinberger, family law expert and founder of Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group, examined the many custody challenges faced by divorced families as a result of Covid-19 and outlined steps co-parents can take to pandemic-proof their custody arrangements in 2021.
“Over the past year, divorced parents have struggled with school closure concerns and fears over their children contracting the virus while swapping homes. Unfortunately, their custody agreements, often decided years ago, don’t offer much in the way of pandemic guidance…these are new issues for divorced families and they require new thinking and a new approach,” said Weinberger.
In light of the continuing Covid-19 emergency, Weinberger encouraged divorced co-parents to consider establishing a “Covid Coparenting Contract” that outlines common sense rules around things like safety precautions and travel guidelines. As Weinberger wrote, a contract can:
- Determine the best way to divide the child‘s time between each parent given any health concerns or changes to parents’ work schedules.
- Create rules for child-exchange that take pandemic restrictions into account, such as travel advisories and quarantine needs.
- Make a separate schedule for home/remote schooling to ensure that school time remains separate from normal parenting time.
- Agree to rules for meeting with people outside the immediate household, e.g., wearing masks, social distancing and following gathering number guidelines.
- Add contingency plans for any missed holidays or regular parenting time, including the use of Zoom or Skype to add extra “virtual” parenting time.
- Respond to any unique or personal concerns during the pandemic.
As Weinberger noted, “These temporary changes are a way to bring stability to an unpredictable situation. When agreeing to a Covid Contract, parents can set an end date for the terms, either a specific date or a contingent date, such as ‘until full-time in-person school starts again’ or ‘until Parent A returns to working full-time at the office.’
Coming together to talk about custody needs during the pandemic is also a way for co-parents to realize they are on the same page of keeping their children healthy and safe.
According to Weinberger, “Divorced parents are discovering common ground in this difficult time and have been generous with alternative time and make up time. This is a model we can all try to emulate—for everyone‘s sake, but most of all, for the children.”
Bari Z. Weinberger will be writing a new Family Law column in the New Jersey Law Journal beginning next month.
About Bari Z. Weinberger, Esq.
Family law expert Bari Z. Weinberger, is the founder and managing partner of Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group, a family law firm serving divorce and family law clients throughout New Jersey with offices in key locations throughout the state. Ms. Weinberger is a certified matrimonial attorney and experienced family law mediator. She is also a published author and frequent media contributor on divorce and family law for both local and national audiences.
SOURCE Bari Weinberger