In the time of Covid, What if Your State Has Different Rules Than the State Where Your Ex Lives?

As we move past the initial coronavirus phase of panic and lock-down, different states are going to start doing different things. That may mean some states will remain in a fairly restrictive lock-down while other states may allow restaurants and movie theaters to open. Daycares may start reopening and restrictions on social distancing will relax some. Perhaps summer sports will go ahead as scheduled and summer camps will open in some locations but not others.

Does one state provide your child with a more ‘normal’ life, and does that change what is in their best interests for who they should be with? Does one state have a higher risk for your child getting sick, and should that be taken into consideration?

This situation is changing everyday. There’s so much we don’t know. It’s only reasonable that if people have been part of a community that has been hard-hit that they will have a different perspective on things than people who are in an area that has not seen a widespread outbreak.

People will have different concerns based on what they have lived through. How do parents come to an agreement on how to keep their child safe and give them the best quality of life when they have different perceptions and there is conflicting information from top experts?

Who Gets to Decide About Your Kids When it Comes to Covid?

How do you determine the classic “best interests of the child” in the time of a global health crisis? Courts are usually the ones to make the final decisions but many courts aren’t open, and there will be a big backlog when they do open, so the cost and time it takes to ask a Judge may not work for you and your kids. You may be on your own! The good news is, that while this issue seems very confusing and full of questions, both you and your Ex have one common goal: keep your kids healthy and happy!

Because arguing and paying attorneys isn’t likely to give you clear answers, you must Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Now is not the time to let your Ex stonewall you or respond in a hostile manner. Whether your Ex is overly worried or overly lax, both parents must leave the lines of communication open. This is serious stuff and everyone is trying to figure it out! If there are not clear-cut answers, then the only way to move forward is to come to some kind of agreement together.

Where Do You Start?

1. Start With Facts (Not Emotions)

Gather all of the information that you need.

  • What are the guidelines being issued by each state?
  • When were they issued?
  • Why were they issued? (what information/data did the state use?)
  • What is the national status of the virus? Has air travel resumed? Have schools and day cares reopened?

2. List Pros and Cons of a More Restrictive vs. a More Lax Approach

Pros of States with Fewer Restrictions:

  • Kids get to socialize, get outside, go to school, participate in sports, and be much more ‘normal’.
  • This is a location with fewer cases of Covid.

Cons of States with Fewer Restrictions:

  • Unknown risk of coronavirus infection for children and parents.

Pros of States with More Restrictions:

  • Minimal risk of coronavirus infection.

Cons of States with More Restrictions:

  • All of the cons that come with strict quarantine including anxiety and loss of normal life.

3. Talk About Your Emotions

Make a list of everything you are worried about. Be honest. Don’t just talk about the worries you have that support your side of the argument – talk about everything.

Of course you don’t want your child to get sick. Even though most children get through this and recover without any problems, it does pose a danger and nobody wants to see their child sick or suffering.

You also need to think about your child’s mental health. How well are they coping with quarantine? Younger children may be thriving to be home with their parent and siblings all day instead of being in daycare. Other children may be suffering from not having interactions with their peers, getting to be outside, and the general anxiety of not feeling safe.

What about your child’s educational and social development? How are they doing keeping up on important milestones in what they are learning and how they are growing? Depending on their age that might not be an issue but other children may be missing out on the benefits they get from their regular daily routines.

Each situation and child will be handling this in a different way. The risk of sending a 2-year-old to daycare will be much higher because they must have sustained physical contact with their care providers and will hug and kiss all of their friends. While teenagers have the ability to keep themselves safe, depending on their personality they may not think social distancing and hand-washing is important for them. How much your child can follow the ‘rules’ that are made to keep them safe will be a big factor in your decisions.

4. Think About What is in Your Control and What is Not in Your Control

You can’t control all risk of getting the coronavirus. Even while on strict quarantine, there’s still some risk of getting the virus through groceries and we can’t all stay on strict quarantine long enough for us to be fully protected through vaccine or medical treatments.

You can control how much risk you accept. Sharing space with someone who has been directly exposed to Covid would be extremely high risk. Going to a concert or sporting game would be high risk.

Everything people do that is between strict quarantine and attending group events presents a level of increasing risk. This virus has not, and will not, go away. The risk will stay with us so we all must come to a personal decision, at some point, about the level of risk we are comfortable with.

Get Health News & Facts About Covid-19 here.

Life is NEVER Black and White: Neither is This New Covid-World.

Compromise is the only good answer. If you have a spouse not willing to have this discussion, or who is unwilling to compromise with you, then you need to take further action. Communicating and compromising is NOT about one of you getting their way. We do not have enough knowledge about this situation to say any one thing is right and another way is wrong.

It would be an unacceptable risk to think that because school is open it’s not necessary to wash your hands anymore. It would be untenable to say that a person couldn’t step outside or get groceries if they wanted to stay safe. If one state is allowing summer camps and softball to take place, maybe the compromise is that all of the children must wear masks and their temperature is being taken. Perhaps these precautions lower the risk.

You and Your Ex May Need Each Other More Now Than Ever Before

Keep in mind, you and your Ex may be more dependent on each other now than ever before. While your kids are likely to fare pretty well through this, it is hit-and-miss with adults.

If you or your Ex gets sick, who is going to help take care of your kids? Can you risk exposing your parents to a positive Covid case? Do you have friends and neighbors who would be willing to watch your child knowing that you are positive? You and your Ex may be the only resources you have if one of you gets the virus and doesn’t feel well.

You are definitely in this together! Safety concerns are not only about your child getting sick, they must also address the risk of one parent getting sick and who takes care of the kids then.

If you are ready to start this conversation with your co-parent, Text Your Ex can help you walk through what you want to say and provide resources for information. Text Your Ex can also communicate with your Ex for you. So many times, emotions get in the way of what is being said and talked about. We can help you and your Ex talk about this in a neutral way that stays focused only on your kids without all of the feelings you have about each other.

Text Your Ex sets it up so that neither party has their Ex’s voice in their head when they are reading messages. Getting a message from a neutral third party means people only read what is written. Nobody has to guess what their Ex “really means” or hear the sighs and eye-rolls and snarky replies. This is about your kids.

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