Questions and solutions with a custody skilled

LOS ANGELES – For many children, the era of COVID-19 is no walk in the playground. No school, no game with friends, and leaving the house means taking the risk of catching COVID-19 and passing it on to the family – an issue that is harder to control for children of divorce, who often have two houses and two families is.

The Arizona Supreme Court earlier this month issued visiting guidelines for divorced parents: If a parent has symptoms of COVID-19, the court will ask parents to waive custody for 14 days. As long as parents are healthy and suitable to care for their children, COVID-19 is not a valid excuse to refuse parental leave under court guidelines. Although the courts remain available for essential matters, the officials urge parents to resolve the issues themselves.

Policy and reality can be miles apart when it comes to family conflicts. So, Cronkite News spoke to Jann Blackstone, a retired custody mediator on the California Supreme Court and co-author of Co-Parenting Through Separation and Divorce: Putting Your Children First, for advice to parents struggling with visits as they age COVID-19 give.

Blackstone specializes in divorce, conflict resolution, and anger management to help families overcome their differences for the benefit of their children. She worked for the Stockton court system for over 10 years before retiring in May 2019.

“I’m sorry I retired,” she said. “I miss it terribly … because it was such an important job.”

She is now writing an online column called Ex-Etiquette, distributed by the Tribune Content Agency, that offers insights into how divorced parents can best deal with various issues they may face.

“I want information out there because if we don’t we will have a whole generation of very sick children,” she said, discussing how prolonged trauma can actually affect a child’s brain structure.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How do divorced parents deal with joint custody? Is it up to the parents to be mature enough to find a good situation or are courts involved?

I don’t think it’s a time when you can stand in front of a judge and say, “Your honor, you won’t let me get my child back because of the coronavirus.” So people really need to put their heads together and start using their heads instead of holding the child back.

In your weekly column, you emphasize the importance of putting children and their needs first and making their wellbeing a priority. What’s the best way to do it in these extreme circumstances?

Listen. The best way to put your children’s needs first is to listen to them. Not only that, put yourself in their shoes. If you can imagine what it would be like – having all the pressure from a parent or other put on you while walking back and forth. Joint custody has caused many problems for many people.

This is a tough time for everyone. You can imagine how unsettling (long pause) it must be when a kid, number one, is getting a divorce and then their surroundings are so curtailed that they can’t hang out with their friends, the kids often use friends as a stress reliever. Now they no longer have this stress reliever and may no longer be able to go back and forth. You can be pressured by the other parent.

Anything parents can do to remove the stress for their children in these circumstances – that is really their job.

As a child of divorce, I find this reassuring advice.

I’m not really saying anything different now than I normally would. I usually say it’s the parents’ job to put the heads together. And sometimes parents tell me that this is really a Pollyanna attitude because exes don’t get along and it is – and that annoys me a lot because kids don’t ask about it. Joint custody is the location of the country. It falls into their laps when their parents don’t get along and they have to do their best to move back and forth between parents.

This is the time when parents start arguing about “It’s my time” and “No, it’s my time”. The truth is, it’s not parenting time. It is the child’s time with the parents. Not the parents’ time with the child. The child cannot cut itself in half. They only have one child and they do the best they can. So if you have all the stress of the coronavirus, when they can’t go back and forth and can’t see their friends and can’t go to school, then it’s really up to parents to put this stuff aside and tap and search Because to make it easier for the children because they didn’t ask for it.

China has reported an increase in divorce petitions since the government ordered lockdowns and quarantines. Why do you think this happens as someone who has been helping divorced people for over a decade?

(Laughs) Because people usually go to work and work is often a stress reliever. You can get out and talk to other people and you can laugh and then come back and bring that information back to your partner. At this point, there is no way you can escape from your partner. You are 100 percent with your partner. And it’s just too difficult. I think I also read a statistic that domestic violence is increasing in this country because it is not possible to relieve stress and get away from each other. Then the parents have to make a pact and maybe say, “Give me two hours to go to the other room. Don’t talk to me Just let me breathe Allow me to speak to my family and relatives without being interrupted. ‘Look for ways to relieve stress together.

Can anything good come out of this quarantine? How can parents use this time to get closer to their children or to become more cooperative as exes?

I think there is a silver lining. This was an incentive for the co-parents to talk to each other. There was really no incentive before. You could have separate households; your child was always the incentive. But often people overlook this because they are caught up in hatred, anger, and separation.

In this particular case, there really is a reason to get over yourself and make decisions in your child’s best interests and relieve the stress your child is going through. It’s also a good time to model how to deal with someone you don’t get along with particularly well, number two: how to take precautions or solve problems with someone you don’t get along with particularly well.

If you can show your child, “Honey, your mom and I don’t get along all the time, but that’s a reason to put all of this aside because we both love you,” you’ve just modeled positive co-parenting! They don’t want their parents fighting … all they really want is for you to get along. If they know you can’t do it, please be kind to each other. (laugh)

Any final advice?

If you can talk to your ex and make decisions in your child’s best interests because there is a crisis going on, you can do so when it isn’t. And that’s really all that matters is your child.

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