Navigating Parenting Disputes Related to COVID-19

 

Many parents have struggled to co-parent during the COVID-19 pandemic, and continue to as time passes since there is often less guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Department of Public Health (DPH) than there was in 2020.  The underlying concept remains the same though-what can you do if you and your co-parent do not agree on issues such as masking your child (in situations where it is not otherwise required), vaccinating your child, or even matters such as where the child should or should not be allowed to go?

The Courts have often hesitated to weigh in on these COVID-19-related issues pertaining to children for a variety of reasons. There are certainly positives to the lack of court intervention as some people are concerned that any precedent set, or case law developed could cause a “slippery slope” in regard to other similar issues in the future.  However, the other side of that argument is that it leaves co-parents without the option of court intervention. What options do exist, then, for co-parents who disagree on these issues?

In a perfect world, co-parents would hash it out and reach an amicable solution together.  However, in reality, that is often not possible as co-parents frequently disagree on parenting issues and/or have different parenting styles.  For those parents who are unsure how to proceed in regard to these matters, there are a variety of options available.

Options to help co-parents reach decisions:

  1. Mediation-the mediation process can be done before a divorce or custody is filed, during the pendency of such, or even afterward if there are post-judgment issues.  Mediation is when the parties jointly hire a neutral third party to assist the parties in working together to reach an agreement.  Wolf & Shore Law Group has helped many parties mediate their issues in various stages of the dissolution, custody and post-judgment processes.
  2. Out of court advisement-sometimes co-parents can reach an agreement on their own, they just need guidance from an attorney, and often, a sounding board. Wolf & Shore Law Group offers “out of court advisement” as an option for Clients who need assistance to resolve the matter on their own, but who ultimately do not want to file in court (at least for the time being).
  3. Co-parenting counseling-many parents have found success in working with a co-parenting counselor. It is not the counselor’s jobs to resolve the issues for the parties, but rather, give the parties the tools that they need to reach a decision on their own.
  4. Parenting coordinator-a parenting coordinator gets more “in depth” than a co-parenting counselor and the process is different because ultimately, if the parents cannot reach an agreement, the parenting coordinator may have authority from the court to make a decision in the child’s best interest.
  5. Court-if none of the other options work, and you still cannot reach an agreement, it may be best to file in court after all. If nothing else, you will have access to family relations, and they may be able to assist you.  Since a parent can make the argument that these decisions can affect the best interest of a minor child, then there is often a valid reason to bring such a matter to court.  Through the court process, the parents may also have the option of retaining a guardian ad litem (GAL) or an attorney for the minor child (AMC) as well.

If you are struggling to co-parent, contact Wolf & Shore Law Group.  We have the ability to mediate for you, advise you, or represent you, based on your own individual needs. Call 203.745.3151 or email info@wolfanshorelaw.comEver Argue with a Woman?

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