Separating responsibilities for separated parents during lockdown
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With the kids at home during lockdown, how can you effectively juggle home schooling, working from home, food shopping, and quality family time too? Family lawyer Rita Gupta discusses how to achieve effective co-parenting in 2021.
As separated parents, you both have shared parental responsibility for your children. (Unless you have a court order that dictates the time your child spends with an absent parent for reasons such as risk.)
During the pandemic, the courts have no issues in parents varying child arrangement orders by consent. However, if you are concerned that temporary changes might impact on your long-term position, or how your court order applies in current circumstances, then seek advice.
Compassionate co-parenting involves sharing the everyday practicalities of life in lockdown. It is unfair (and unsustainable) for one parent to be under more pressure than the other, especially in two key areas:
1. Home schooling
2. Working from home
Current regulations allow children to move freely between the homes of separated parents. Remember, the kids don’t have to stay overnight and can visit just for the day.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR EX
Communication is vital for co-parenting success. If you have problems, you can communicate via your solicitor, or use remote means such as a designated email address. Keep communication polite and succinct, avoid using inflammatory language, and don’t be a keyboard warrior!
SHARE THE FUN STUFF EQUALLY
It is important children receive consistent messages from separated parents. Be careful of what I call a ‘Santa Claus scenario’, where one parent deals with the schooling and extra curricular activities and the other parent has the children for fun time.
SHARE YOUR SKILLS
You both have a lot to offer your children in terms of personal skills, strengths and knowledge. Divide up the week with lessons and activities from you both. Your children will benefit from a wider viewpoint and you’ll build stronger bonds with them too whilst feeling markedly less stressed. Ensure any homework or resource finding is shared too.
GET UP TO SPEED
The speed and reliability of UK internet connections is a postcode lottery. So, if you have the larger data allowance, faster broadband, or more reliable connection, it may make more sense for the kids to work online with you.
SHARE YOUR TECH
If you have spare tech, give it to the kids to use. If you don’t have anything, the government can provide laptops through their school. Some charities can provide reconditioned tech for free.
FLEXIBLE WORKING FROM HOME
Sharing bandwidth and screen time between lessons and work Zoom meetings is a major challenge for many families. Plan out a home working routine where everyone has time to learn, work, exercise (and eat). Talk to your employer/s about flexible working options around schooling.
ASK FOR HELP
Some parents fear that it may appear that they can’t cope if they ask for help from their ex partner, especially if they had a difficult relationship. However, remember that lockdown 3.0 is a challenge for nearly every family, but can be greater for single or newly separated parents. Co-parenting isn’t easy but by putting the needs of the children first, you can achieve a balance that works for all the family.