Holiday schedules are often included in shared custody agreements. If you are like most families, your plan was probably to alternate years for Thanksgiving and winter break—including Christmas, if you celebrate. During the Covid-19 pandemic, however, this schedule could be turned upside down by a family member’s infection, a shelter-in-place order, or the need to self-quarantine. Don’t be caught unprepared. We recommend creating a new shared parenting agreement that takes these situations into account.
How Will You Navigate the Holidays?
Along with the rest of the country, your family has been dealing with the challenges created by the coronavirus for many months. Last spring, you had to make decisions under the gun about where your kids would stay under the statewide shelter-in-place order. If you or your husband had to return to work, you probably had to figure out a fair solution to childcare. And then this fall, you had to find a way to share the responsibilities of online school. Maybe this all worked out for you and your ex, and maybe it was a nightmare. Either way, you can take some proactive steps now to ensure that the holidays go more smoothly.
If your children are switching households during the holiday season, you should consider the following when negotiating temporary changes to your parenting plan:
- Pre-approved guest lists. While your child’s “bubble” already consists of two separate households, you should still limit the extended family and friends that are allowed into each home. If the kids are scheduled to be at your ex’s for Christmas, for example, you could require that he agrees to have no additional guests for the holiday to limit their potential exposure to the coronavirus.
- Travel. Traditions such as annual ski trips or Caribbean vacations must be tabled this year for everyone’s safety. If that means you or your ex loses time you would normally have with the children, alternative plans will have to be discussed.
- Conflicting mandates. If you and your ex do not live in the same community, you could be dealing with conflicting regulations. One area might be strict about a mask requirement, while the other might not enforce the rule at all. Certain states require 14-day quarantines for visitors, making a two-day holiday visit impossible. If you are concerned about your child’s safety in your ex’s community, this should be addressed in an agreement.
- Work schedules. If you or your ex-husband works in a high-risk environment such as healthcare and will be working shifts while the children are with that parent, you might consider trading the holidays for a future time when you or your ex is able to take time off.
- Limited resources. Transportation services, entertainment options, shopping mall hours, and restaurant availability will likely be very different from past years. If this will affect you or your ex’s ability to provide the children with a stimulating and enjoyable holiday, it might be best for the children to stay with the other parent.
- Hot-spots. If either you or your ex-husband lives in an area where infection rates are soaring, and medical resources are low, you might consider having the children stay with the parent who lives in a safer area until the virus is under control. This might be negotiated with a change in spring or summer plans.
The last thing you want to have happen this holiday season is for anyone in your family to contract the virus. Aside from that, you also don’t want your children to be stuck in quarantine on Christmas or forced to stay in an unfamiliar place because of a stay-at-home order.
Don’t Compromise Your Children’s Safety—Make an Agreement Now
Global pandemic or not, the custody order that is currently in place is legally binding. If you don’t take proactive steps to temporarily alter the agreement in light of Covid-19 and your ex is uncooperative, you could be forced to compromise your children’s safety—and your own. At Nathan Law Offices, we take the threat of the coronavirus very seriously, and we would be happy to help you negotiate an agreement that keeps everyone safe this holiday season—and beyond. Contact our office in Marin County to learn more about how we can help.