Parenting plans are hard enough to get right, and providing for every contingency is nearly impossible. Foreseeing the current situation would have taken a masterstroke in planning, but your family can pull through by approaching hard rules with a softer touch.
Massachusetts Probate and Family Court Chief Justice John D. Casey has penned a letter concerning emergency enforcement for new and existing orders. Local courts may still be available when you’re working under immediate and demanding conditions, but allowing some leeway in your life could be the answer you need for now.
Your first step should be to maintain open lines of communication with your children and their other parent. Health concerns, lost work and changing schedules can render previous agreements difficult, so do your best to stay on the same page through trying times.
Stay the course
Your family’s court order is likely still in effect even as the world around you changes. This means that shared time and support payments remain in place, but it could be in your family’s best interest to redefine your standards temporarily:
- Exchanges: You’ll probably need to continue to abide by your exchange agreements, but you may have to get flexible with the details. Try your best to keep your swaps the same, while preserving an open mind toward altering pick-up times and locations.
- Shared time: Parents maintain their right to see the kids, though extreme circumstances may require you to get clever. Outdoor visits, video conferencing and telephone calls might turn into your new normal. You could also float the idea of making up for lost time after restrictions subside.
- Payments: An economic turn in either household may be inevitable. If it isn’t the workload taking over, it might be a sudden drop-off with income. Staying current on support payments could be incredibly difficult in the coming weeks or months, but it’s important to remain aware of each other’s situations.
Even as you try your best, things might stray too far outside guidelines or safety could become a concern. Taking care of your family may ultimately require intervention from the courts to make sure you don’t bend so much that you break your parenting plan.