As Wisconsin joins the list of states enacting shelter in place orders, many clients have been curious about what this means for two household families. As we always advise clients, placement orders must be followed except in rare and extenuating circumstances when following the placement order poses a risk of harm to the child. Emergency Order #12, the Safer at Home Order issued by Governor Evers earlier today specifically allows transportation for purposes of compliance with a placement order. It is expected that families will follow their placement orders.
Working from the presumption that we are all expected to follow our placement orders, coparents must determine how to keep their families healthy during this unprecedented situation. Does alternating placement between homes pose a risk of harm to your child? This is a very personal decision and not to be taken lightly. Obviously we know that the more interactions we have with others, the more we are exposing ourselves and others to COVID-19 and other germs. In assessing your family’s situation, we strongly encourage all clients to begin by talking with the other parent to establish guidelines in both homes.
Putting together a framework for coparenting during this unprecedented situation will be helpful to keep your child healthy and well cared for and will diminish the possibility of conflict as you adjust to home schooling and staying at home.
Your COVID-19 parenting plan should consider the following:
- With whom will your child have contact at each home?
- Of the people that your child has contact with, what are their risk factors?
- Risk of infection to your child based on others’ actions in and outside the home
- Risk to others in the home if your child is infected
- If your child does demonstrate signs of illness, how will you and your coparent respond?
- If a coparent or others’ in the child’s home demonstrate signs of illness, how will you and your coparent respond?
- How are signs of illness being measured and monitored in each home?
- How will your child’s educational needs be met in each home?
- Will the homes maintain the same routine during the school day?
- Are any additional measures being taken to address the child’s activities in each home?
- Consider alternatives to extracurricular activities
- Consider physical activity
- How will transitions occur between the homes?
- How is each household discussing COVID-19 with your child? What information is being shared or omitted?
If you and your coparent are unable to reach consensus on your own, you may want to consult with your child’s pediatrician to help determine a stay healthy plan. A pediatrician familiar with your child and your family may be able to provide neutral perspective regarding the risk factors faced by your child and other family members. Ideally both parents would participate in this conversation so that everyone is on the same page.