How to Juggle North Carolina School Reopening AND Child Custody Issues
Navigating a pandemic is hard for everyone, but divorced or separated parents with custody agreements face unique challenges. Aside from navigating custody agreements while keeping outside contacts to a minimum, parents with shared custody are trying to plan for kids heading back to school in August. Exactly how and when students return to classes is still up the air in many districts in North Carolina, including the Raleigh area. But parents are concerned about balancing work with virtual or hybrid school models, particularly if one parent has custody for all or most of the workweek.
Navigating custody agreements during a pandemic
- Follow court orders: You should follow your court-ordered custody agreement unless you and your former partner agree to adjust it. But if you can't agree, you need to follow the agreement already in place. Consider your home and your former partner's home to be part of the same quarantine bubble. As long as everyone stays healthy, a court will agree that you should follow your current custody agreement.
- Make a plan: Make a plan with your former partner about what you will do if someone in your family becomes sick. You won't want to try to rearrange living arrangements at the last minute while you are ill.
- Focus on practical solutions: If one of you ends up in quarantine or sick, consider agreeing to adjust your schedule to make up for you or your co-parenting lost visitation time.
- Stay flexible: Even if you have a plan, you may need to be flexible. Just remember that we're all doing the best we can with an unpredictable virus and an unprecedented shutdown.
- Keep communicating: Even though it can be challenging, keep the lines of communication open with your co-parent. Share the precautions you're taking at home and outside. Hopefully, this will make everyone feel more comfortable.
Custody agreements as schools reopen
When discussing a plan with your former partner, consider all the options depending on school district decisions.
- What will happen to your childcare arrangements if the children end up in virtual school or a hybrid model with days rotating in and out of school?
- Does one of you have the option to work from home?
- If you need additional childcare, can you both share the cost?
Remember, according to the North Carolina Family Court custody recommendations during COVID-19, if the schools are closed, you should follow your custody plan as if schools were in session unless you mutually agree on another solution. School closure for health reasons isn't an extension of vacation or a school break.
If you have questions about how custody and visitation should work during the COVID-19 pandemic, give me a call at 919-719-2785 or contact me online. If you don't yet have an attorney, I'm happy to help you and your former partner work out a solution that works for your family.