Back To School During COVID

Our Seattle Child Custody Attorneys Explain the Ramifications of Schooling During a Pandemic

With the end of summer comes back to school time. Except that for many this year back to school is NOT like usual – many if not most students in Washington will — for now — be learning from home. I no longer have a child in school so I do not know the details of what this is going to look like, but it is clear that it is going to demand much more of parents.

At the very least it means more supervisory time, which takes time away from other things, like employment. Likely it will also mean having to be more involved in the learning process itself, helping your children navigate their online lessons successfully.

parent helping children with tablet

Custody Considerations During the Coronavirus

For some divorced couples this may mean needing to cooperate in sharing the additional work associated with the kids being back in school. This might take the form of adjusting parenting schedules to accommodate work schedules as well as school at home schedules. Many parenting plans leave the children with one parent during the school week while the other parent mostly sees the children on weekends. However, the increased demands of learning from home may mean that the school week time may need to be shared so that each parent can keep up with work commitments.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is important that you have something in writing reflecting the new schedule and the fact that it is only meant to be a temporary change (specify when it will end, such as when the children are allowed to start attending school in person). Without a clear statement that the change is temporary and of limited duration, a court could later find that the change in parenting schedules justifies changing the parenting plan on a permanent basis to reflect the new schedule. Our Seattle child custody lawyers understand these challenges and are available to help you create a new plan.

COVID-19 and Child Support

If the change in parenting responsibilities is significant, it may also be important to discuss whether there should be any temporary changes in child support as well. Please note, however, that for child support changes to be enforceable, there would need to be a court order signed which reflects the changes.

Let Our Seattle Family Lawyers Help You Navigate the “New Normal” for Parents

If the two of you find yourselves having trouble reaching agreement on how to accommodate distance learning, you may want to consider mediation to help you work through any areas of disagreement. We have mediators at Seattle Divorce Services, or we can refer you to outside mediators if you are working with one of our attorneys. (We cannot be both your attorney and your mediator – that would be a conflict of interest.)

If you need to discuss parenting plan issues, give us a call at 206-784-2039, or use our contact form to schedule a time to talk with one of our attorneys. Please be aware that due to COVID, to keep both you and our staff safe, currently all meeting with clients are conducted by phone or Zoom.