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Remote Learning and Its Impact on Our Custody Arrangement: Same Rules, New Context

Heather White

As remote learning has become the new reality, families should look to the provisions of their parenting plan for guidance, albeit through a new lens. As stated in most parenting plans, parents should work together to be flexible and creative when exercising parenting time, to avoid exposing the child to COVID-19 or not providing proper supervision and support while the child is studying remotely. Parents may want to discuss rescheduling or modifying holiday plans to comport with local safety standards. With that said, if the other parent does not agree with your proposed changes to the parenting plan, make sure to speak to your attorney before making unilateral changes.

Parents should aim to have a clear plan for parenting time during the COVID-19 outbreak, to provide certainty and security to the child. Similarly, parents should share information about their child with the other parent and minimize differences between the households, so that the child can become accustomed to this new, although hopefully temporary, living situation. Parents should make sure not to deny the other parent access to the child’s school records during this time. Parents should continue to divide education-related expenses according to their parenting plan, as parents may need to incur extra expenses as a result of remote learning.

Parents should continue to follow parenting plan provisions regarding their child’s health and safety, by providing physical and mental health outlets and continuing to monitor their screens while children are using their devices for entertainment. Parents should continue to encourage their children to stay in contact remotely with extended family members who they are not be able to make in-person contact with.

Importantly, under these circumstances, parents should follow their parenting plan provisions regarding communication with the other parent. During this stressful time, try to remain calm, minimize confrontations, and be supportive of the other parent. Parents can read these helpful instructions for speaking to your children about COVID-19.

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