Co-Parent Coronavirus Conflict

A Guide to Practical Resolution Amid COVID-19 Chaos

Brook Mullins[1]

 The Northern Kentucky Community is facing unprecedented times due to the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 public health emergency.[2]  The changes that have taken place in our daily lives can contribute to unrest and conflict at home and in our relationships.  Indeed, domestic relations practitioners have witnessed an increase in co-parenting conflict over the past six-weeks.  Co-parenting partners who have a history of finding themselves at odds with the parenting approach and lifestyle choices of the other parent have found that their differences are now greatly magnified.  Other co-parenting partners who have worked amicably together for years are suddenly finding themselves embroiled in disagreements regarding Governor Beshear’s Executive Orders or the United States Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) guidelines and recommendations.

If you are a Northern Kentucky co-parent who is experiencing financial disruption or concerns for the wellbeing of the children you share with another, keep reading to learn the proactive steps you should be taking now and how Jackson Family Law can help.

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Jackson Family Law has helped co-parents navigate the myriad of parenting conflicts which have arisen during this unprecedented time.  Commonly recurring co-parenting issues have included coordination of domestic obligations for the small business owner experiencing an economic hardship as a result of the ongoing pandemic and/or Governor Beshear’s Executive Orders and concerns for the wellbeing of shared children in the care and custody of a co-parent who appears to be ignoring or not taking seriously the United States Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) guidelines and recommendations[3].

The Jackson Family Law team has also helped our clients by answering questions regarding the most most recent Kentucky Supreme Court Order(s) regarding custody and parenting time,[4] and by responding  to questions and concerns about shared children being in the care and custody of a co-parent who is working as a first responder in the field of medicine.

If you are experiencing co-parenting coronavirus conflict, please keep in mind that Kentucky Courts are currently closed until May 31 unless your matter qualifies as an emergency.[5]  Though our Family Court Judges have done a great job implementing remote video technology to hold legal proceedings when practicable, this may not include all coronavirus co-parenting conflicts and almost certainly does not include those requiring an evidentiary hearing.  To make sure that you do not get caught up in the backlog of rescheduled court dates caused by the ongoing public health emergency and closure of the Kentucky Court System, follow the tips below to help resolve co-parenting coronavirus conflict before it begins:

  1. Create a Coronavirus Co-Parenting Preparedness Plan.

Co-parents should brainstorm anticipated co-parenting issues before they arise and reduce to writing an agreeable plan of action to reach resolution if needed.  By setting the baseline rules on how disagreements will be resolved prior to engaging in those disagreements, misunderstandings between co-parenting partners can be mitigated. This might include agreeing upon terms such as a parent who travels outside of the state of Kentucky self-quarantine for 14-days prior to exercising any parenting time[6], or that neither co-parent will allow their child to have in person contact with friends or go on non-essential shopping trips so long as social distancing[7] recommendations and guidelines remain in effect.  This may also include the division of newly assumed childcare needs and responsibilities such as coordinating outdoor activities and the completion of virtual learning or homeschooling tasks.

Jackson Family Law can help co-parenting partners formalize their plan of action with a legally enforceable Agreed Order.

  1. Keep a Coronavirus Custody Log.

If you are not ready or able to reduce an agreeable plan of action to writing with your co-parenting partner regarding actual or potential coronavirus conflicts, it is a good idea to keep track of all changes made to your co-parenting schedule, concerns, and points of disagreements in writing.  Be as specific as possible in your writing and remember to include dates.

  1. (Cordially) Communicate in Saved Writings Only.

If you and your co-parenting partner are already engaged in conflict caused by the  coronavirus, communicate in writing using a format that can be easily saved and stored, such as email.  Remember to keep communications with co-partners cordial at all times. You should act as if a judge making decisions about your life will be reading  your communications.

  1. Get Tech Savvy to Stay in Contact with the Jackson Family Law Team.

If you have not already done so, it is important to establish a video conferencing platform such as Zoom.  This will help you get in touch with your attorney during this ongoing public health emergency without in person contact.  This will also ensure that you are ready to have a virtual emergency hearing in the event one is needed.  Jackson Family Law is currently offering our clients telephone and video conferences via Zoom.  You can stay in touch with the Jackson Family Law team during the closure of non-essential businesses by clicking this link and creating a free Zoom account today.

 

  1. Keep Calm and Contact the Jackson Family Law Team.

When all else fails, contact the Jackson Family Law.  Equipped with remote communication technology and a secure cloud-based client filing system since 2014, our team is well versed in responding to immediate client needs while away from the office.  We are dedicated to continuing our high levels of service to clients remotely during this ongoing public health emergency.

[1] Associate Attorney, Jackson Family Law; Juris Doctor, The University of Kentucky David J. Rosenberg College of Law (2019); Bachelor of Arts, The University of Kentucky (2016).

[2]Exec. Proclamation 9994, 85 FR 15337 (Mar. 18, 2020), https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/03/18/2020-05794/declaring-a-national-emergency-concerning-the-novel-coronavirus-disease-covid-19-outbreak; Ky. Exec. Order 2020-257 (Mar. 25, 2020), https://governor.ky.gov/attachments/20200325_Executive-Order_2020-257_Healthy-at-Home.pdf; Andy Fies, Surge in Divorces Anticipated in Wake of COVID-19 Quarantine, ABC News, (Apr. 17, 2020, 5:06 AM), https://abcnews.go.com/US/surge-divorces-anticipated-wake-covid-19-quarantine/story?id=70170902; Elaine Schwartz, Cornavirus, a Baby Boom, and a Divorce Spike, econlife, (Mar. 2020), https://econlife.com/2020/03/coronavirus-impact-on-births-and-divorce/.

[3] In effect for the Commonwealth of Kentucky per Governor Beshear’s Executive Orders. See Kentucky’s Response to COVID-19, Ky.Gov, (last accessed Apr. 26, 2020), https://governor.ky.gov/covid19.

[4]  Sup. Ct. of Ky. Order 2020-14, In Re: Custody and Parenting Time Orders,  (Apr. 14, 2020), https://kycourts.gov/courts/supreme/Rules_Procedures/202014.pdf.

[5] Sup. Ct. of Ky. Amended Order 2020-22, (Apr. 14, 2020), https://kycourts.gov/courts/supreme/Rules_Procedures/202022.pdf.

[6] Ky. Exec. Order 2020-258 (Mar. 30, 2020), https://governor.ky.gov/attachments/20200330_Executive-Order_2020-258_Out-of-State-Travel.pdf.

[7] As defined by Governor Beshear’s Executive Orders referencing CDC guidelines, “social distancing” means staying at home when possible or otherwise maintaining six feet of distance between other individuals. Ky. Exec. Order 2020- 275 (Apr. 8, 2020), https://governor.ky.gov/attachments/20200408_Executive-Order_2020-275_State-of-Emergency.pdf; Ky. Exec. Order 2020-257 (Mar. 25, 2020), https://governor.ky.gov/attachments/20200325_Executive-Order_2020-257_Healthy-at-Home.pdf; Ky. Exec. Order 2020-246 (Mar. 22, 2020), https://governor.ky.gov/attachments/20200322_Executive-Order_2020-246_Retail.pdf.

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