The COVID-19 pandemic is one of those topics that impacts people from one corner of the globe to the other. When we look back on the situation in the future, I believe that we will see more news was devoted to updates and changes in the data and projection of this virus that I'm basically every other topic of the past generation. It has been that important, that persistent, and for that reason the news is covered it like nothing we have seen before. No matter where you come down on the stay at home versus go out and live your life debate, I think we can all agree that the government has taken steps that in their opinion were intended to keep all of us safe.
When we think about those who would argue that life will never be the same after COVID-19 I think what they are talking about are the little things that were never seen prior to COVID-19. For example, it was almost something you would never see in public for people to be wearing masks when they go to the grocery store, park, or any other public place. Now, we see people regularly wearing masks even in their vehicles. Again, we can debate whether or not this is excessive but to the person wearing the mask in the car it isn't. Each of us has a specific willingness to take on risk in our daily lives. Some are more risk averse while others are willing to take on more risk in exchange for greater freedom to go about their daily lives.
Even in the private sphere, we have seen tremendous changes in our habits over the course of the last three months. Consider how for months and months we couldn't get toilet paper or paper towels without showing up to the grocery store very early in the morning or waiting until employees of the grocery store put out new merchandise. The same goes for soap, household cleansers, and any product made with bleach. It seems that our culture overnight became very interested in staying clean and keeping things sanitized at home.
Think about for a moment the changes that you have made in your house. If you have children, it is likely that they were the primary motivator for your changes that were made. When the kids never returned to school after spring break he had more time with them at home, more time to likely worry about the kids and more time to implement changes in the home place. Many of us saw our children as being at risk due to the pandemic and we would stop at nothing to do as much as possible to help keep our children safe from the virus.
If you are married, you and your spouse likely were acted as a team during this time period to help make the changes at home that you thought were necessary to keep everyone safe. We could reinforce each other's new rules, keep one another accountable and ensure that the kids followed household rules regarding washing hands eating vegetables and maintaining a safe social distance from people when in public. You and your spouse truly were teammates during the outset of this pandemic.
However, if you are not married due to a divorce or have been separated from their spouse you were not able to rely upon another adult to carry out your changes at home. You were left to fend for yourself and to help your kids take on these new habits with minimal discomfort. Many of you who are going through a family law case in Texas or have recently completed a family law case in Texas understand exactly what I am talking about. Not only are you having to concern yourself with the cleanliness and safety of your own home but now you are concerning yourselves with the cleanliness and safety of an ex-spouse’s home. On top of that, as stay at home orders have been lifted you have the entire area around your ex-spouse is home to concern yourself with. Is he or she taking your children to safe places? Is he or she ensuring that your child maintains an appropriate distance from others during this time? Do he or she and you see eye to eye on whether or not to have your children wear a mask?
These are the sort of conundrums that even four months ago would have been impossible to foresee. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan have been fielding questions from clients and potential clients alike over the past few months in hopes of providing information that could be beneficial to these people. We would like to take this opportunity to provide you with additional information and advice on how you can better conduct your home life during the pandemic. Instead of worrying needlessly about your child's other parents’ home, why not take additional steps to provide a safe environment for your kids in the home you can control-your own.
Talk to your children about the summer and how Visitation is going to work
Even if your kids are used to summer visitation and how it differs from the school year, it is smart to talk to them at this stage about what to expect this summer. The major difference being that COVID-19 has cut short their school year, eliminated extracurricular activities and made it very difficult for them to be able to see friends. Your kids may assume that they will not be getting any Visitation with the parent who does not live with them. Suddenly whisking them off to that parent’s house could cause a major disruption in a surprise. It is better for you and your ex-spouse to communicate with them about how Visitation will work and to reinforce how important it is to be able to spend time with both parents.
You will set the tone as far as how aware to make your kids of COVID-19 and the precautions that are taking place around them as far as safety is concerned. Depending on their age, you may feel more comfortable sharing additional information with them. You may also want to restrict some information from them while allowing your kids to discover on their own what is going on. My advice would be to take a proactive approach and to be honest with them about the virus and the risks it imposes on our society. However, I think we have seen that the risk so associated for children of getting the virus are quite low in that symptoms can be mild with children especially.
It would be wise for you to work with your children's pediatrician on ensuring that they do not miss appointments for regularly scheduled care. Any parent of student athlete should be aware that your child will still need a physical before the school year begins in order to participate in extracurricular activities like sports. I am not a doctor and I’m not able to give you medical advice. However, your children's physician is certainly in a position to be able to guide you all on how to get care during this time do not assume that the doctor is closed or that it is not safe for your child to get care this summer if need be I know my own children's doctor takes a great deal of precaution as far as keeping the office clean keeping exam rooms clean and training the staff on how to best keep patients safe.
If your children have concerns do your best to talk to them about those concerns the concerns that are not based in reality and are mostly based on fears that children have you should begin to alleviate those concerns as best as possible. If your child has a specific concern that he or she is raising about visiting with the other parent, you can address that with your child and then contact the other parent. This is a great opportunity for you to engage in co-parenting and a chance for you and your children to be able to work together with your ex-spouse. In a time where togetherness and cohesion can be difficult to find all of you working as a team will be a great thing for your child to latch onto for this summer.
Talk with your ex-spouse about how possession exchanges will occur
For the most part, possession exchanges should occur as normal period however, if you and your ex-spouse are used to exchanging possession in public places or other areas that might be closed off or restricted during this time you will need to work on an alternative place for possession exchanges. For example, I have had clients in the past who had agreed with an ex-spouse to exchange possession in the lobby of a police station in the lobby of a McDonald's or in another public place. The reason for this is that these parents unfortunately were not able to amicably and civilly exchange possession at each other's residences. However, as of the writing of this blog post government buildings and fast food restaurants are closed to patrons.
If you find yourself in this situation you will need to work on an agreeable, neutral location for position exchanges to occur. is there a common person in your life such as a relative or friend, who would be agreeable to hosting possession exchanges? you may want to check with someone to see if they could at least do an exchange in a driveway or in front of their home. This may sound silly but for some families this type of agreement is absolutely necessary.
Again, if you truly have concerns over cleanliness, safety, or any other factor related to your child's Visitation with the other parent you should discuss that with that parent. There is no use wrongly denying the other parent their visitation time period this will have adverse effects for your child , for the other parent, and for you. Reason being, that the other parent can file an enforcement lawsuit against you if you wrongly deny him or her Visitation time period the end result of that wrongly denied Visitation could be is she's related to court costs, attorneys fees, in even jail time period this is In addition to a $500 fine per violation of your final decree of divorce or suit affecting the parent child relationship.
Do not allow your own fears to collapse onto your child
the final piece of advice that I will mention here is for you to be able to become as comfortable as you can with the reality of this situation Regarding the virus. Whether you are entirely comfortable with returning to work, having restaurants and businesses open, and generally going about your life is normal, the reality is that we will all have to begin to coexist with this virus as best as possible as long as it is with us. This may mean coming to terms with your own insecurities and fears. This can be a good thing for you if you allow it to be.
What I mean by that, is that understanding that you have concerns regarding the virus and helping yourself and your kids to live your lives in spite of those concerns can be very cathartic. The opposite of this, would be to allow your fears to trample on the relationship you have with your children and to allow it to harm the relationship that your children have with their other parent. Use this summer as an opportunity to show yourself how tough you are and to engage fully in the one thing that one -there was this the episode of family feud parenting process.
Questions about the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas family law? Contact the law office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material that was covered in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys are available for free of charge consultations in person, over the phone, and via video. Thank you for your interest in our law practice and we hope that you will join us again tomorrow as we share additional information about Texas family law.