One of the topics that I don't think I've ever written on here on our blog is daycare costs. You'd think that this subject would have come up somewhere along the line about a child custody or divorce case. You may search for the word daycare on our blog and have a couple of posts come up, but I don't think that the word daycare will appear as the title subject for any of them. Daycare is just one of those topics that we think about as a side issue related to having children in this day and age. It is rarely the subject of preliminary discussion concerning a Texas family law case.
However, this subject may become more critical during the days of COVID-19. I say this because so many things in our world are up in the air right now. Consider that many of you reading this blog post have employment situations that are at best tenuous right now. The pandemic began In mid-March and not only led to many immediate business closures in the retail sector but also precipitated events in the oil and gas sector that led to many firms closing doors, furloughing employees, and otherwise having to let go of a large portion of their workforce.
Suppose you ask any person who has gone through a Texas family law case before they will tell you that so much of a parenting plan as laid out in a final decree of divorce or suit affecting the parent-child relationship depends on consistency both in employment for parents and where your children are on any given day. Due to the pandemic, your ability to work and earn a living for your family may have been temporarily abended.
Daycare costs are not commonly discussed as far as a parenting plan is concerned. One can assume that childcare costs every month for one child equal child support. However, depending on the type of childcare you wish for your child to receive, the price may be substantially higher. People are being stretched in terms of their budget due to the economic shutdown that childcare costs may likely be the first to go. Your budget may not allow for childcare to be had right now.
It would be a valuable conversation for you and your Co-parent to have right now if you would discuss how you all will handle childcare and the costs that come with it during this pandemic. What you had been doing before the beginning of the pandemic may not work right now. As a result, alternatives may need to be considered, at least temporarily. What are the options that you and your Co-parent can choose from to ensure some consistency and stability for your child during the remaining weeks of the summer?
Are you working from home? Why not try out a schedule that accommodates your child?
This is the method that I think many of us parents have implemented since the beginning of the pandemic. I can think back to April when my children's school was closed and how my wife and I took the reins on Caring for our kids during the day and picking out activities for them to engage in to keep themselves busy and to learn. Yes, she and I have jobs where we can easily divide our day between Parenting and working. Some of you may have jobs where even if you can work from home, and you cannot devote too much attention to your kids. This is less than ideal, and an extended period of Parenting like this may adversely affect your children.
However, for a short period, you and your co-parent should be able to figure out a way to remain productive at work and to take care of your kids. The fact is that many of you would be performing this balancing act right now, even if there were no pandemics. After all, it is the middle of summer, and unless your kids are going to a summer camp at this time, they will likely be home with you anyways. Don't let the stress in the worry regarding the virus cancel out the commonsense aspects of the situation. If your child had been home anyways, then care for them the same way you would have had this pandemic never begun in the first place.
Sharing parenting time with your co-parent likely requires that you and they communicate with each other more regularly and with greater consistency. Fortunately for you, technology allows for many ways for you and your child's other parents to work together to communicate updates and strategize on the best way to divide your child's time during the summer. Also, remember that your family court orders still take precedence for your family absent any other circumstances. This means that unless someone is sick, you should look to your family court orders when deciding how to divide up time for your child during the summer.
On the other hand, if your child is ill, then the parenting plan from your family court order should go out the window, at least temporarily. The health and safety of your child and your family should be your priority, and there is no need to stick to a court order that tells you when possession. Should start and end if your child is sick. For example, you should not feel obligated to do exchanges of living with a sick child. Keeping that child in one location in isolating them from other people for the time being it's probably the best strategy. Again, this is not something novel about this pandemic. If your child had bronchitis during the summer, you wouldn't want them to have to travel, would you?
Co-parenting as a means of addressing issues about childcare during the pandemic
No matter your specific financial circumstances or what they are for your co-parent, there is no better time to work on your co-parenting skills than right now. During regular times it is easier to get away with laziness or no co-parenting at all. You can occasionally speak with your child another parent about updates regarding your child and take no interest in coordinating parenting efforts with them. You may be able to get away with that. However, as the old saying goes, we can all tell who's skinny dipping has been when the tide goes out.
What do I mean by that? Simply put, you can take shortcuts when the tide is high and things are going well because the circumstances in your life have not led to those parenting methods being fire tested. Nobody can tell during the excellent and straightforward times in your family's life what role co-parenting plays. You and your child another parent can raise your children Without much coordination, and because times are good and no problems have arisen, It will be difficult to tell the role that co-parenting plays.
However, viral pandemics tend to force you and your child's other parent to prove to test how you have been raising your child. If you have not been co-parenting and have not coordinated your efforts in terms of discipline in structure for your child, then any problems lying under the surface may rear their heads during this pandemic. For instance, if you have no backup plans as to how to care for your child, if childcare costs become too much for your budget, then there is a potential problem. Rather than wait until the last minute when there is a problem, I would work with your child's other parent to determine if any backup childcare plans can be arranged.
Simply put, you do not want to wait until the last minute to decide on alternative plans for childcare. The worst time to have to problem solve is when you have a problem period. Instead, be proactive in solve this problem before it arrives on your doorstep. Yes, this will force you to have actual conversations with your child's other parent. I understand that this will not be pleasant for some of you, but I think it is essential to care for your child properly.
If speaking to your child's other parent in person is a problem for you, you are fortunate to be living in the year 2020. We have many different ways to communicate with one another that do not necessarily require face-to-face contact. The telephone, email, text messaging, and co-parenting websites all exist and function well, depending on your circumstances. If communication is always a problem for you and your co-parent, why not try out a new method of communication?
What can you do about childcare costs if your divorce or child custody case is ongoing?
On the other hand, if your family law case is not done over with then, you still have time to address this issue. Hopefully, we never have to consider circumstances like we're living through right now regarding a significant change to our way of life due to this virus. Though nobody knows what direction the virus will go down and what our national responses to it will be in the future, I think it is safe to say that planning for future problems is a good idea.
For instance, if the cost of childcare had been a burden for you and your family during this pandemic, then it may be wise for you all to consider what you would do in the future as far as dividing up childcare costs. As I mentioned earlier in today's blog post, most Family court orders do not consider assigning daycare costs to a particular parent; however, if you and your family are in a position Where this is a critical topic, then you all may want to do so.
I have seen what other families do concerning primary school is that they will agree to live within a particular school district so that their child can always attend the same school no matter which homes the child lives in- mom or dad. This way, your child can ask them for stability and consistency in the future. If your child goes to a particular daycare or school that you all like, then you can think of creative ways to incorporate that structure into your family court orders.
In closing, I believe that communication regarding the subject is the most important thing for you and your Co-parent to work on during the COVID-19 pandemic. The daycare costs are associated with this time. It will be relatively small in comparison to any improvements that you and your Co-parent make in communication. Use this topic as a stepping stone towards better co-parenting and more fruitful and effective communication.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys have experience handling cases in every area of family law, including the one you and your family are going through currently. A free-of-charge consultation with one of these attorneys is available in person, via the telephone, and video conference technology.
We look forward to discussing your family circumstances with you and talking to you about how our office can best serve you in the future.