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How Has COVID-19 Affected Co-Parenting in Illinois Divorce Cases?

 Posted on January 21, 2021 in Child Custody


After a couple finalizes a divorce, they can often go their own separate ways, never having to see each other again. However, if children are involved, they will be co-parenting together. This can be difficult under any circumstances, but even more so during a global health crisis like COVID-19. In an effort to stop the spread of the contagious virus, many non-essential businesses have been closed, while students have been learning remotely and parents working from their homes. Navigating this new normal presents different challenges for co-parents. This means some divorced parents may need to modify their existing co-parenting arrangements or  parenting time orders.

Co-Parenting and Parenting Time Schedules

In Illinois divorces, parents must create a parenting plan that outlines how parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation) will be shared or divided. If spouses cannot agree to the terms of this plan before their divorce is finalized, the court will become involved. In these cases, a judge will make decisions on what is in the best interest of the children. Arrangements can be tailored to fit parents’ work schedules as well as children’s school schedules. Sharing may be in the form of one parent having the kids stay with him or her for one week, then the other parent having the kids the next week. In other situations, one parent may have the majority of parenting time with the co-parent only having the children every other weekend and one night a week.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place throughout the United States, including Illinois, most pupils are either fully remote learning or in a hybrid model. Likewise, some parents may be working full-time from home if their offices are closed. Essential workers, such as those in the healthcare, government, or other service industries, usually cannot work remotely. For parents of younger children, this can pose a problem if they do not have childcare for their kids. In these cases, the parents can petition the court to temporarily modify a current parenting time order to accommodate unique situations.

In addition, temporary order modifications may be appropriate due to coronavirus restrictions. In order to minimize the risk to all family members, switching to the children being at each parent’s house one or two weeks at a time instead of going back and forth every few days could be safer.

Make Health and Safety a Priority

Although a vaccine has been produced and is being administered across the country, health officials are still recommending social distancing and face masks to protect against contracting the virus. These suggestions also apply to kids who are transported between households. Also, one parent may do all of the transporting to maintain a sense of security and consistency.

If one parent tests positive for COVID-19, the children may need to stay at their other parent’s house for an extended period of time so they do not get sick. Setting aside time for virtual visits with the other parent through video conferencing apps can alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty. Allowing the children to text or call the other parent, grandparents, or other extended relatives can provide some comfort and normalcy during this unprecedented time.

Contact a Wheaton, IL Divorce Lawyer

Even when a couple gets divorced, if they have children together, they will need to learn to co-parent. Co-parenting can have its challenges, especially during a pandemic. That is why you need a knowledgeable DuPage County family law attorney who will handle your case with care and concern. The accomplished legal team at Stock, Carlson & Duff, LLC has more than 40 years of experience in all family law matters, including how to protect your parental rights in complex divorce cases. To schedule a private consultation, call us today at 630-665-2500.


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