Two weeks to “flatten the curve” evolved into two years of people sheltering at home as COVID and its variants entered the United States. Feeling trapped inside a dwelling can put stress on any type of relationship. A marriage already seeing cracks pre-pandemic made for a union that could be easily fractured under the added stress of a worldwide health crisis.
A bad situation becomes worse when divorced and divorcing parents disagree on masks, vaccines, remote learning, and travel. The pandemic is having an impact on family courts nationwide, with cases once dormant being resurrected. Mediation seems to be the exception and not the rule in these matters. The current environment is resulting in busier courtrooms.
A complex rift divides mothers and fathers
The children’s best interests take on a new definition when well-meaning parents are split over pandemic measures and mandates that were in place when the initial divorce decree was signed. Constantly changing situations create moving targets that only make a bad situation worse. Tensions continue to intensify, as even parents who are able to find common ground may see it quickly disappear.
Custody and visitation agreements are presenting particular challenges. One parent who is staunch on pandemic restrictions may find it difficult to allow their children to spend time with ex-spouses who have differing opinions and approaches. Some judges are playing a decision-making role in requiring parents to get vaccinated, provide statements from their doctors why they aren’t, or submit to COVID testing to spend time with their child.
While the pandemic will not last forever, the complex feelings that divorced spouses feel for each other could remain a lifetime issue when spouses spar over differing approaches to the pandemic. When confronted with such issues, parents should try to view the best interests of children as a foundation where cooperation replaces contention.