Back-to-School COVID Battles Erupting Among Divorced Parents

Few things fuel arguments among divorced parents more than the safety of their children.

Each person in the marriage brings their own set of safety tolerances reared from their own childhood and they’re often incompatible after the marriage dissolves.

COViD-19 is testing those limits as divorced couples face the question: “Do I send my children into the classroom if and when schools re-open in September?”

My law firm is dealing with this impasse more and more frequently as the countdown to September accelerates.

Some parents are fearful and adamant that they don’t want their children in the close confines of the classroom, often referred to as Petri-dishes in the lower grades for the number of cold and flu cases that are part of the daily routine for kids and teachers alike.

And other parents feel it’s safe, OR they are now left with no choice but to send their children into the education system because they don’t have a nanny or daycare and they have to go to work.

While children seem to have more tolerance when it comes to COViD-19, we know they are not immune.   Even health experts are unable to anticipate how the virus is going to affect schools when they open. Will children be carriers?  Will more kids actually contract the disease?

How on earth do you resolve a question that involves your most primal of instincts: protecting your children from potential harm? It’s a significant challenge

In collaborative law, we establish meaningful channels of communication between spouses long BEFORE the divorce is finalized.  These tried-and-tested protocols for resolving disputes are put in place from the start of the divorce process.

A social worker is part of the collaborative law team from the outset, providing the benefit of “knowing” the couple on a more personal level in order to help them weave through the facts, figures, and mostly, the emotional haze that accompanies this difficult period.

So, by the time parents have begun life on a new path while splitting time and responsibilities with their kids, the dispute resolution mechanism has a track record of practical successes within their family unit.

The challenge with COViD-19 disagreements on school attendance is that one parent wants to go against an existing custody order.  The divorce is over and the legal agreements are already in place. So if mom wants the kid in school and dad says “no way, too dangerous for our bubble” …who wins?  

Remember, the courts are still on restricted-accesses mode.  Only the most urgent of cases are being heard, so there’s very little chance a judge will be able to hear any non-urgent arguments before Labour Day, the annual harbinger of the school bell’s return.

As the government takes us from Phase 2 to Phase 3 reopening stages, the trepidation mounts.  A parent would do anything to protect their child, including keeping them home from school – even if it means financial hardship and resisting government assurances that it’s a safe environment.

But for divorced parents, that decision can be wrought with bitterness, anger, fear, and resentment, placing the kids in the middle of a new family war – one that currently cannot be resolved in a courtroom.

More than ever, the Collaborative Law path offers options …and solutions.

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