Shared custody has always been challenging, but in the time of COVID-19, families are facing difficulties like never before.
By Margaret Donohoe and Paul Talbert
Shared custody means that parents make important decisions for their children by agreement. But what decisions need to be agreed upon? Normally, only “major decisions” are shared by separated or divorced parents. Major decisions can include medical, educational, selection of extracurricular activities and summer camps, and religious upbringing decisions. Typically, day-to-day decisions like what the children will wear, whether they wash their hands as soon as they get home, whether they will go to a birthday party, etc. are left to the parent the children are with at any given time.
But COVID-19 has made many “day to day” matters feel like “major decisions” – the kinds of decisions that are so important to a child’s welfare that the parents should agree on them. What if deciding what to wear includes whether the child will wear a mask? And if the parents agree about the mask, do they agree about what kind of mask?