Co-Parenting during the COVID-19 Back to School Season

Robin M. Mermans, Esq
April 19, 2023

It’s back to school season in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region and this year brings a school year unlike any other due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are so many changes for students from modified learning schedules and different educational structures to altered extracurricular activities and cancelled athletics. Every family is going to experience something new this year and it’s going to be hard. This is especially true for blended families and those with shared parenting agreements.

My husband and I have five children with two different custody agreements. On a regular school year schedule, it can be challenging to balance all our children and their unique schedules based on classes, activities, and sports. Yet, in this not-so-regular schedule of COVID-19 precautions and restrictions, we know this is a whole new level of challenging.

This will be a learning process for all of us. It’s unprecedented and there is no “right way” to navigate this time in our world. As a collaborative law divorce attorney who works with families to develop shared parenting agreements, I have a unique perspective on this topic. I’m a mother and stepmother with children in college and high school, so I can relate with many other co-parents who are trying to figure out what is fair and balanced in the midst of a pandemic. I’d like to offer some co-parenting guidance when it comes to structuring family dynamics during this back-to-school season that is unlike any other.

Be Knowledgeable:

Understand how your child’s school calendar will work. Schedules vary in school districts across the state with most being a blend of in-classroom instruction and virtual instruction. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools approved Plan B-Plus Remote for reopening schools on August 17, 2020. That means that students will attend school in-person on a rotational basis during the first two weeks of school. Then, beginning in week three, all students will receive fully remote instruction.

In a statement from the CMS Board of Education, after the on-boarding days, Plan B-Plus Remote will offer a remote learning environment for all students, which also provides the flexibility for more teachers and staff to work remotely. A full remote-learning option may be selected by parents who have concerns about sending their students to school during continued pandemic conditions. If you have any questions about your child’s schedule, reach out to your school or the district. CMS set up a call center (980-343-3001) to field questions, concerns, and comments about the operational plan.

Be Flexible:

Once you finalize the details about your children’s school schedule, you’ll need to be flexible with potential changes. Most districts only released plans for the fall semester. There could be more changes by the spring. For co-parents, these changes might be difficult since we strive to create consistency for our children.

Be Supportive:

This is a difficult time for everyone, especially children. My husband and I, as well as our co-parents, want our children to know that they are supported. Of course, we want them to know this all the time, but during this time of uncertainly, I feel like we can’t show our support enough. We’ve made sure that our children have comfortable and quiet work spaces at each parent’s house. In addition, each house has the necessary materials and supplies needed for the semester.

We know that our children are going to miss seeing their friends in a daily setting, so we’re also making plans with other parents for socially distanced meet-ups and get togethers. This is also the case for family members like grandparents, aunts/uncles, and cousins on both sides. We want to make sure our children are able to safely spend time with their loved ones whether that be in person, through a video chat, or during a phone call.

Be Understanding:

Personally, my husband and I strive to be understanding of our children’s wants and needs. Along with this, I try to do the same with the co-parents in our lives. This means taking the time to understand what is going on in their lives too and how we can work together to create the best environment for our children.

That said, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact many jobs and industries. If you or your co-parent are experiencing a change in your schedule due to COVID-19, be sure to discuss this with each other. If you and your parenting partner need to adjust your parenting agreement, make sure everything is documented in the event of a miscommunication or misunderstanding. If there is difficulty in coming to an agreement, you may need to consider bringing in a third party, like ROAD to RESOLUTION, to help neutralize the situation. Our legal team is trained in creating fair and balanced co-parenting agreements that work for the entire family. We also offer co-parenting guidance services where we help families during their shared parenting journey.

We’re Here to Help

If you have any legal questions about your shared parenting agreement or need co-parenting guidance, please give us a call at (980) 260-1600. Our Charlotte-based team is here to help you and your family.

The ROAD to RESOLUTION Divorce Blog can help you differentiate the fact from the fiction, and guide you towards the support you need during this difficult time. Use our resources and services to find all the info you need—from pre-divorce education to drafting essential legal documents. Please contact us today to find out more about how we can help you.

Note: This blog is intended to be informational only and shall not be construed as legal advice.

Robin M. Mermans, Esq
Founder and Principal Attorney

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