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  • Laura L. Van Tassel, Esq.

6 Tips On Navigating The Holidays As A Co-Parent During COVID

6 Tips On Navigating The Holidays As A Co-Parent During COVID

Holidays often take much planning and preparation and particularly, when parents are separated, can involve a great deal of negotiation. Add Coronavirus, and shared parenting has become more challenging than ever. The reality is that no-one knows what to do. The situation changes daily and all co-parenting arrangements are different. Should you change your routine? What about travel? Are you and your ex on the same page? As a family law attorney, I get the greatest number of calls around the holidays. There are several tips I'd like to provide to parents in order to survive the holiday season while co-parenting. These tips can help navigate this difficult time while retaining your sanity, keep your family safe, and ensure this holiday season is memorable for your children for the right reasons.

1. Children Come First

Always put your children first. Common sense coupled with respectful engagement is the surest path. We all play a vital role to help reduce the spread and protect those who are most at risk from contracting COVID-19. More than ever, parents need to find a compromise in the interests of children. When your children are in your care you have control over how this is done using social-distancing, hand washing, and frequent cleaning. Let the other parent know that you (and all members of the household) are following these guidelines. This shows that you are taking things seriously and may give you all peace of mind. Politely tell your ex that you would appreciate that they follow them too for the safety and protection of him, your children, and the community. Read the

As with all co-parenting, it works best if you are consistent in each home. If you are arguing with your ex, ask yourself this one question: How can we provide our child with the best and safest environment? Send your ex this Government Health link and explain that you are following these guidelines.

2. Travel

If your children have future travel plans such as a holiday or interstate flights as part of your parenting arrangements, you and your ex must decide if they go ahead. If arrangements become unclear or cannot be met because of restrictions, use common sense to find solutions to challenges. Give the other parent plenty of notice and an explanation so they also have time to adjust.

Should you be unable to reach a decision, follow the current Government Travel Advisory Guidelines. Be aware of these changes regularly.

3. Adapt

Keep in mind who the holidays are the most special for your children. While it may seem frustrating to trade or give up a parenting day to accommodate your former partner’s plans, take a deep breath, and think about your children’s best interests. In addition to making sure your children are happy, being flexible and open to compromise may result in your co-parent being willing to compromise with you down the line. If children won’t be able to see the other parent or other important people, find other ways to try to maintain the connection – including digital communications.

4. Open Communication

Good communication is always helpful. I think it's really just about making sure that as parents, you can talk to each other and be honest and open, and also making sure that you are.. telling each other how our child is doing or our children are doing during this time. Try to be on the same page with your ex about the things you will each do in your respective households (and in your wider communities) to limit exposure to the virus and to shield the children. If there has been a risk of exposure to the virus, be honest about that. Do you both approve of visiting relatives and friends? Are there any activities that either parent strongly feels should be off-limits? Having these conversations upfront (and out of the earshot of your kids) could help prevent your children from witnessing a nasty argument down the line.

Have an agreed response plan for if your child shows any symptoms. Immediately tell the other parent. Have your own self-isolation plan ready and share it with the other parent if necessary. Try to engage openly and honestly with the other parent about your concerns. Government-mandated responses will be required if you have been exposed and will include isolation or quarantine and may include testing.

5. Stay positive

The fact that the holidays look a little different this year does not have to be a negative thing. Stay positive by making new traditions. Maybe it is the year to stay in pajamas and have a full-day holiday movie marathon, or Zoom session for carol-singing. Keep the magic alive for your children and ensure that the 2020 holidays are your best yet.

6. Be patient, focus on solutions

This situation is not going to resolve overnight. The way we work, socialize, communicate, and parent will change over the next few weeks and months. Make a conscious effort to embrace the good and joyful moments in each day, stay connected by phone or social media to friends or family who can support you, and remember that you are the beacon for your children at this time.

Mediation During the Coronavirus

During this coronavirus pandemic, Dispute Resolution services are sometimes needed more often as parents with shared care parenting plans try to implement those plans under the difficult circumstances that are presented by COVID-19.

Van Tassel Law continues to offer clients the ability to meet in person, via telephone, or through video conferencing. If you are seeking an urgent mediation or assistance understanding process options, such as family dispute resolution or parenting coordination, please call my office for a no-obligation 15-minute consultation about parenting through the coronavirus 201.664.8566 or email me at


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