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Sharing child custody during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Texas

Sharing is a concept that, in my opinion, does not come easy to most people. I think the natural tendency for most of us is to want to keep what we have and if anything, gain more of it. When we were kids and we had a slice of cake we could do with another slice but certainly wouldn't want to give up half of our cake so our brother or sister could have some. This isn't to say that sharing isn't a good thing or that maintaining what you have is a selfish tendency. However, sharing is something that, to become good at it, takes some practice. 

Nowhere is this truer than in regard to child custody in family law. When you and your spouse we're married and living together you naturally shared parenting responsibilities with one another. Not only did the nature of your relationship lend itself easily towards doing so but the fact is that when you're living in the same house with your spouse it is easier to delegate certain rules and parenting to one parent or the other. In my own home, my wife tends to handle certain jobs while I do others. This doesn't mean that I'm not capable of filling certain roles or that my wife isn't either, but I think we just sort of naturally drift into certain responsibilities and shy away from others. 

Whatever the circumstances are for you and your family I can almost promise you that parenting has not gotten easier during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our routines and general way of life has been changed somewhat dramatically due to our response to this virus. As a result, the delicate balance of sharing parenting time between co-parents has been disrupted to an extent. How well you and your co-parent can share custody during this time will determine how strong your family is as we emerge out of this pandemic. 

When you and your co-parent work together in order to accomplish a shared goal or task then your family is better off both in the long term and short term. How can you all begin to work together in regard to sharing child custody during this pandemic if that had not been your strong suit prior to the beginning of this year? That is what I would like to discuss with you all today. If you need advice or perspective on How to improve your ability to share child custody with your co-parent during this pandemic, then look no further than this blog post

Open the lines of communication and everything else will fall into place 

if you are a regular reader of our blog then you know that I am not a fan of beating around the bush or being unclear with the advice that we have to give. I heard an old saying a long time ago that I think is very important for an attorney. That saying goes something like this: to be unclear is to be unkind. Basically, with that means is that if you are in a position or you can help someone, and you are not clear about the advice or help that you were able to give that you were being hurtful to that person rather than helpful. Let me explain further. 

Sometimes in our lives we are concerned so much with our feelings and those of the people around us that we attempt to beat around the Bush and not address issues that need to be addressed directly. While this may avoid unpleasant conversations and diminish the need to communicate with one another it can cause a difficult situation to become more difficult and ultimately create a circumstance where we need to have an even Tougher conversation down the line with this person. I think there is a direct relationship between the strength of your relationship with another person and how willing you are do engage in difficult conversations with him or her. 

This brings us full circle back to our original topic of sharing child custody during this pandemic. I think it is impossible to have a conversation on this topic without addressing directly how important it is for you to be able to communicate with your co-parent. Without a doubt, I find that in the post-divorce or post child custody lives of clients and former clients alike that the inability to communicate with a co-parent leads to, almost inevitably, greater turmoil down the road. If you thought your divorce was contentious and hard to get through, then a modification or enforcement case in a year or two could be even worse. 

Add to that a global pandemic in all the stresses that the shutdowns, stayed home orders in general fears of getting ill add to that and you have a potentially combustible situation. While it would be easy to rationalize your circumstances in an attempt to avoid having difficult conversations, I would recommend that if you need to address a particular topic with your Co-parent that you should do so now rather than waiting. Trying to save your or someone else’s feelings from hurt or avoiding a difficult topic altogether may feel good in the short term but in the long term it will not provide you any benefit at all. 

Consider this example that I think is relevant for many of us during this pandemic. Suppose that you were too become ill as a result of the virus or any other sickness in the weeks to come. To me, it doesn't matter at this stage if you get sick with the virus or with any other sickness. The fact is that we are all acutely aware of the impact that illnesses can have on our community and we're going to take extra precaution to keep ourselves healthy right now. Coronavirus or not, if you get sick then adjustments will need to be made and how you share time with your cold here in regard to your child. 

If you get sick, you obviously need to communicate that to your co-parent. You should do so no matter what their reaction is or how it could impact your time with your child in the short term. Be direct with your co-parent about your illness and what you are doing to get better. This means that your child would likely need to seek medical care from their pediatrician and likely be away from you for a period of time. Again, this is no different than if you had gotten the flu or any other sickness at any other period of time period. However, since we are all in a state of mind that sickness needs to deal with more diligently than usual You should enter into this discussion with the timeline for your recuperation as well as a plan to recoup lost parenting time with your child. 

There is no guarantee that you're coherent will agree to the modifications that you are requesting as far as make up time with your child. The plans that you have created as far as getting back that time with your son or daughter may not be what your co-parent wants. You should be prepared to go back and forth a little bit and discuss different options that suit both parties as far as making up the time with your child. If you were sick for two weeks and weren't able to see your child in the course of those two weeks and your tendency maybe to want to make up this time in one fell swoop. However, given your child will be returning to school soon his or her other parent may have different ideas in mind. 

The best you can do in this type of situation is to be honest about your expectations and direct with your position that you are going to get back the time that you have lost. This does not mean that you have to be aggressive or angry or demanding. What it does mean is that you have to be able to share your thoughts on child custody with your co-parent directly. Two people work together and document their discussions and are diligent about working together to create solutions to their problems then there is no limit to what they can achieve as a team. It may be that you have problems thinking about you and your co-parent as a team given your history. However, at least in regard to raising a child that is exactly what you are. 

Sharing the rights associated with medical and educational decisions with a co-parent 

The last topic I would like to discuss in regard to sharing child custody during the coronavirus is in regard to educational and medical decisions. Within your family court orders there is a section dealing with conservatorships rights that you and your co-parent share in relation to your child. If you have not done so in the past few years or months, then I would recommend you go back and review those sections. You will be able to review what your responsibilities are in relation to decision-making for your child as well as what circumstances call for you and your co-parent to make decisions together regarding the well-being of your child. 

It is my hope that you and your co-parent only have to make decisions better difficult in regard to educational matters and nothing to do with the health of your child. From a statistical perspective, young children Have shown to be less likely to carry the virus, or at least symptoms of it, and have a mortality rate that is far lower than any other group of people. This is good news so far it has led many groups to recommending that school resume in the fall as close to normal is possible. 

However, if circumstances change in the next few months and schooling as we have become accustomed changes then you and your co-parent will be in a position where you need to make a decision regarding your child's educational feature. For instance, if your child's public school chooses not to resume in person classes this fall then would you consider homeschooling your child or sending him or her to private school? These are the sort of decisions that you and your co-parent would have to work through together bearing in mind your family court order. 

Some parents share most every right to do child in some form or fashion. If this is the case, then you need to be ready to speak to this circumstance with your co-parent and need to be able to share the decision-making responsibility. If you have a position that you believe will need to be argued with your co-parent, then you should come into the discussion with information in argument that you will believe to be persuasive. Failing to communicate well and then displaying a tendency to not want to share these important decision-making abilities with your co-parent is a recipe for disaster. 

Whatever circumstance you and your family find yourselves in, just know that you have what it takes to succeed and co-parenting during this crisis. These are not pie in the sky platitudes that I'm serving to you. It's a simple acknowledgement that all you have to be able to do is show some patience, be willing to communicate directly and display hey readiness to cooperate and share as much as possible and as much as your orders call for. If you can do these things, then the rest of the details will fall into place as we all try to navigate this stage of the pandemic. 

Questions about sharing child custody during the coronavirus pandemic? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

The attorneys and staff with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan thank you for choosing to spend part of your day with us here on our blog. If you have questions about the information presented in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Are licensed to family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, via video and over the phone. We hope that you will join us tomorrow as we share more unique content about Texas family law. 


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