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Back-to-school and Co-parenting During COVID-19

As children and parents adjust to returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic, many families, especially those with divorced parents, will face new challenges. Parents and children have likely already had to decide whether their child(ren) will distance learn or return to school in person. New education models may place additional strains on co-parenting decisions. Some parents might disagree on whether their children should return to school, some may disagree on how best to assist their children with distance/remote learning, some may have work schedules which make the sharing of tasks difficult, and many may be required to adjust (at least temporarily) custody schedules to meet these challenges. Here are some tips on how to ensure the best co-parenting experience for your child(ren) under the current circumstances:

If you and your co-parent disagree on your child returning to school in-person or distance learning, refer to your custody agreement about who has the final say in educational decisions. Custody agreements and parenting plans should state which parent has decision-making power over education, medical, and other decisions. If you and your co-parent share joint legal custody, you will likely have to come to a mutual agreement concerning educational matters. If you cannot come to a mutual agreement, explore involving a disinterested third party or mediator to assist you before resorting to litigation.

If distance learning has been mutually decided upon or if your child’s school is mandating it, it is important for both parents to understand the extent and nature of the attention your child will need while attempting to efficiently learn at home. Under shared custody agreements, this decision may be more contentious and challenging, in which case you might need to bring your custody arrangement in front of a judge.

While the courts may aid in the decision-making efforts as to what is best for your child’s education during this time, a judge may likely encourage parents to revert to the government’s current orders and recommendations. You can refer to the following page for a comprehensive list of resources regarding COVID-19 put together by the Nevada Department of Education: Nevada’s Response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Keep in mind that you always have the right to fight for your child’s best interest. Continued conversation and research about COVID-19 with your co-parent is vital and, if needed, you can always seek legal advice when a mutual agreement cannot be reached.

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