While the world continues to face the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, families, and specifically parents, are faced with a unique situation – balancing the added stress and uncertainties resulting from COVID-19 with the need to move forward cooperatively as a family unit. Moreover, and to add to this complexity, at the outset of the pandemic the courts were only hearing “urgent” family applications, meaning that should conflict arise and/or escalate within families, a parent was not necessarily able to seek the court’s immediate assistance surrounding parenting issues, let alone parenting issues arising from COVID-19.
Despite these difficult challenges, the courts, counsel, mediators and/or other third-party professionals are continuing to see what should be categorized as a marked shift in family law with respect to dispute resolution. As a result of our society’s willingness to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has afforded individuals with the opportunity to participate in various avenues for alternative dispute resolution via videoconferencing. This has not only assisted in expediting the dispute resolution process, in reducing and/or eliminating costs incurred due to travel, but also, and more importantly, has made dispute resolution arguably more accessible to those families in need.
In addition to the above, it is important to acknowledge the significant efforts displayed by parents in order to resolve and/or avoid conflict. Despite parents facing obstacles surrounding employment, education, extra-curricular activities, and not to mention the health and safety of family members, we are continuing to see parents actively set aside their differences with the hopes of moving forward in a successful co-parenting relationship. Whether this be adjusting the parenting schedule, being flexible with vacation plans, or simply engaging in transparent discussions with the other parent, there is no doubt that parents are finding cooperative ways to navigate through the ongoing COVID-19 concerns.
If you have questions or would like to discuss parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic in greater detail, please contact Wells Family Law and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.