As the United States battles an unprecedented global pandemic, many households have retreated into quarantine to limit the spread and impact of COVID-19. In response to this crisis, the state of New Jersey has issued a stay-at-home order, which encourages families to isolate themselves in one household and minimize contact with the outside world.
This has presented many challenges for co-parents with split custody agreements. Parents with split custody agreements find themselves at a difficult crossroads: does the child stay with the parent that was looking after them when the quarantine began? Or do custody exchanges continue to happen as planned, understanding that the change in environment could expose both parents and children to the virus?
No clear-cut answers
The severity of the situation cannot be denied, particularly for Northeastern states. New York state has become the epicenter of the virus, with more cases than any other single area globally. NY’s neighboring states, including New Jersey, have seen a large number of cases and deaths due to this virus.
Family law did not account for a global crisis that would be as long-lasting and unprecedented as the current pandemic. Nothing quite like this has happened in the United States since the Spanish flu, which occurred in a time where family law looked very different.
For lack of better phrasing, we are in uncharted territory. And frustratingly, we don’t exactly know when our lives will be able to resume as usual.
Getting creative with your time
While the pandemic has thrown a wrench into co-parenting and split custody agreements, many parents are coming up with ways to stay connected with their child while they are separated. Some are achieving this by:
- Using video connecting apps such as FaceTime or Zoom for face-to-face interaction
- Playing games together remotely
- Scheduling walks or meet ups with the children, while maintaining the recommended 10-foot social distance
- Streaming a movies or TV shows together
While these options pale in comparison to having their children home, parents are finding ways to adapt to the new circumstances until we are able to respond to this legal problem with more clarity.