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Summer 2020 Co-Parenting Tips

For most co-parents, summer looks a lot different than the rest of the year. Kids of every age are out of school, and co-parents need to juggle extra childcare with potential extracurricular activities, vacations, summer school, and whatever other activities the children may partake in.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic also stands to impact how co-parents approach their child custody arrangement over the summer. Today, we're taking a deep dive into the things you can do to make co-parenting a little easier for everyone over the summer of 2020.

Taking Stake of Where You're At

It's no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically impacted the lives of Americans across the US. At the time of writing this article, June 2nd, over 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment, and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned that the unemployment rate could rise to 25% before the economy truly starts to bounce back—a figure not seen since the great depression.

What happens next remains to be seen. Many of the relief programs implemented at the outset of the pandemic will soon expire. The US government may have to enact secondary measures such as another round of stimulus checks to keep the economy from collapsing further.

Whatever the case, it's a stressful time for many. Co-parents moving into the summer should convene and take stock of where both parties are at.

If one parent lost their job, they might find it challenging to care for the child properly or pay a certain amount of child support. If a parent is currently searching for employment and considering accepting a new job that requires them to move, that may impact the custody arrangement. Additionally, certain markets were hit hard by COVID-19 (the restaurant and hospitality industries come to mind), and others were hardly affected. If one co-parent is a professional in an industry crippled by COVID-19, it could be a significant amount of time before they regain employment. How does that affect your child custody or support arrangement? What will each parent do to help their child understand the current situation?

Many parents who stayed employed are now working from home (WFH)—some permanently. You should also discuss how WFH affects your child custody arrangement. Many childcare centers are still shut down, so parents may need to be more hands-on than usual. If one parent has a demanding job and can't be an active parent while working, that may impact the custody arrangement.

Both parents should be aware of how the other is faring, and discuss next steps. You may have to modify your current child custody arrangement to reflect your circumstances more accurately. Figuring out how drastically the epidemic has impacted each co-parent financially and emotionally allows both parties to reach a mutually beneficial arrangement.

How to Co-Parent Effectively Over the Summer

Once you know where you and your co-parent stand in the wake of COVID-19, it's time to start making moves. Here are some things you can do to make co-parenting easier during this time:

  • Take care of all the little things. If you can't exchange custody at school anymore, where will you transfer custody? What expectations do you have for each other as parents over the summer (for example, are both parents supposed to read to the children frequently or play a sport with them)? Are there any activities, such as sports or music practice, your children need to attend regularly? Iron out the schedule to prevent miscommunication.
  • Consider summer school for your child. Schools across the US shut down in March and April, resulting in most students utilizing the internet to continue their education. However, not every student has access to electronic devices for schoolwork, and not every school transitioned into online classes effectively. Many students will have fallen behind the academic curve thanks to COVID-19, and summer may be your chance to get your learner back on the right track. Discuss with your co-parent whether summer school is a good idea and how you want to approach it. Five days a week? Only on the weekends? Via a private tutor? Figuring out the details now will help reduce stress in the long run.
  • Try and figure out a way to re-socialize your kids. At this point, you should still be taking precautions such as wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and paying attention to CDC best practices for preventing COVID-19. But kids of all ages missed out on the end of the school year, and landmark events like prom or graduation. If you can, try and figure out a way to encourage your kid to spend time with their friends. Maybe it's hosting Zoom playdates, maybe it's driving your kid to a social distancing picnic at a park—whatever the case, both parents should be on board and help their child(ren) re-socialize over the summer.
  • Figure out vacations. If either parent is planning a vacation, talk about it in advance. Both parents should be aware of each other's vacation schedule well ahead of time to prevent scheduling conflicts, particularly if you need to "take" custody time from your co-parent to bring the kids on vacation.
  • Consider counseling for your child. As we mentioned earlier, many kids ended the school frustrated, especially those who missed seminal events like graduation or prom. Additionally, many parents are stressed out right now—and your kids can tell. Your children aren't only likely frustrated about how their year ended, but they're also probably worried about you. Having an objective third party like a counselor can help your child process their emotions and gain a healthy outlet for their feelings.
  • Discuss how you'll approach the beginning of the next school year, and what you'll do to prepare for another wave of COVID-19. From mass protests sweeping the nation to the return of children to classrooms, a variety of occurrences could lead to a resurgence of COVID-19. How will you handle it? If one parent is an essential worker in close proximity to the virus, what precautions will you take? Will the at-risk parent have to give up custody in favor of video chats to keep the child(ren) safe? The prospect of a second wave of COVID-19 probably isn't something most of us want to think about, but tackling it proactively can help you adequately prepare for the situation.

If you need help with your child custody arrangement, we're here for you. Contact Singleton Smith Law Offices online or give us a call at (951) 779-1610 for a consultation with our team.