By Tony A. Potter, Partner
Ward Potter, LLC  |  Wichita, Kansas

Who is tired of hearing the phrase unprecedented situation?

I am, but how else can we describe what we are all currently experiencing? Certainly, in my lifetime I have not had to work from home, stay at home, not leave my home…you get the idea. So, how do we handle a situation most of us were not really prepared for, and directions on what to do are at least not clear? When parents ask how best to co-parent in this situation my response to the question (so far) has been the same: if you have a current parenting plan or orders from a Court that you were following before the COVID-19 crisis, follow them now.

Granted, there may be some unique circumstances that need to be addressed, but that is true of all cases. Parents and children in one case, while having some similarities, are not the same as parents and children in another case. But the similarities that are present help to at least guide us in the right direction, and it helps to remember in times of crisis that it is the similarities that help us to work together. Similarities like:

• Parents love their children and want what is best for them.

• Dislike for the other parent can be put aside for the children.

• Taking advantage of a crisis does not benefit the children, or the parents.

Of course, that does not mean all is forgiven or that past issues disappear. But recognizing them for what they are and setting them aside for the sake of the children, is usually best. Ultimately, it can help prioritize what is important.

How do we work through this unprecedented situation and do what is best for children? First, re-read your current parenting plan and the orders of the Court. Judges want their orders followed. Second, read your State or City orders about the COVID-19 crisis. Some stay-at-home orders are unclear and provide many exceptions. However, most are clear that Court orders must be followed, i.e., that even though there is a pandemic, parenting time is not suspended.

Most importantly, talk to the other parent. That can be difficult, if not downright frustrating. But chances are the other parent is experiencing the same feelings of fear, frustration, and doubt. Try to remember that you can disagree without being disagreeable. Generally, if parents can agree to deviate from a parenting plan the law allows them to do so. So, communicate with the other parent and try to work together to solve the problem.

Unprecedented means unknown. Fear of the unknown can be difficult because it is not quickly resolved. But working together is best for the children, and for the parents. So, take a deep breath, focus on the children’s needs, and try to work together. And wash your hands.

For more information email Tony Potter, Partner or visit our website Ward Potter LLC