Corona Virus and the Custody Battle: How Covid-19 has impacted our Communities Custody disputes and Quick Tips to get parents through this unpresented time

In collaboration with:
Coping through the virus shutdown
By Michelle E. Watson


Our children are our future and it’s so important for our community and Courts to recognize and help resolve custody disputes when they arise.

In this post, we’ll provide an all-encompassing rundown of custody disputes in Portage County and how the Covid- 19 virus has impacted us. This post provides you quick tips and suggestions that can help parents resolve issues during an epidemic.

Being prepared for any situation is the best way to help resolve any disputes between parents.
Our Courts cannot always keep up with our fast paced world, that’s when Attorneys and private mediators need to step up and help resolve this issues.

No custody order or agreement can address every issue that arises, so therefore, there is no “catch all” phase in any order or custody agreement paperwork that will resolve issues that were not anticipated at the time the paperwork was drafted.

So, here are some quick tips to help you resolve any disputes that may arise during this unpresented time:

“Children are our most valuable resource.”
— Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States

1. Communication:

As simple as it may seem, communication is the most important aspect during a dispute. Over the years, our office has seen numerous times that both parents have the same concerns and goals. If the parents were just to take some time to express their desires and concerns they would realize that they both have the same views. As impossible as this may seem, my office has come across this issue more often than not. We always suggest to take a few minutes and make bullet points as to what a client’s goals and concerns are and the outcome that they want and try to keep your emotions out of it for now. Putting your concerns and goals on a piece of paper helps the client express their desires in an effective way.

a. Communication and Parenting Apps:

When a phone call or text messaging is not an option or is not effective, we always suggest to our clients to utilize communication/parenting apps. There are numerous companies out there, the two most frequently used are Our Family Wizard or Talking Parents.

These apps communication tool for parents to send messages to and from each other. Depending on which app is used, the messages cannot be erased or altered and can be used in court.

When you take the time to type up a message to the other parent you increase your control over what is exchanged. A parent has to take the time to write out what the issues are. After it’s typed out the parent can review what is written to modify it, if necessary, before it is sent to the other parent. This will help keep the discussion more focused and productive, and decrease the likelihood of escalating the conflict, especially if you know these messages can be used against you.

2. Take notes in a Journal:

We always suggest to our clients to keep track of text messages, phone calls, exchanges and parenting time with each parent.

Memory fades but notes and evidence does not.
Do not use this information as a threat or to harass to the other party. We suggest to keep track of all your records just in case there was a dispute to an issue, then we can go back and check the clients’ notes.

We have seen over the years clients keeping a journal as to the events that took place. One again, a client who takes the time to write down notes and reflect on the events that occurs helps them maintain control over their emotions.

3. Keep your court order handy:

If you have a Court Order: Once again, memory fades but court orders do not. At my office, I cannot express how many times I’ve had clients misplace their court orders. Once a court order is filed, a client can always obtain a copy from the Courts Clerks Office in which their order was filed. When a dispute arises, we always need to refer to what the Court order states. That is the first thing the Court will look at.

If you do not have a Court Order: It’s always best when the parents are separated to have a court order agreement that can be enforceable in Court. If the parents don’t have a court order, their rights can be very limited and therefore, there is very little that an Attorney, Court or Police Officers can do to help assist the other parent.

4. Private Mediator:

Great communication is always essential during unpresented times. When the court dockets are busy, parents can always seek a private mediator to help resolve any disputes in a professional setting. Seeking a private mediator is more cost efficient, faster, and can help each parent to have a say in the co-parenting of their child. Private meditation helps parents custody arrangements be custom tailored to their needs. Having a specifically fitted agreement helps in most aspects of you and your child’s life and it is clearly defined to you.

In conclusion, being involved in a custody dispute is already a complex matter with emotions and feelings running at an all-time high, it’s so important to have effective ways to resolving disputes. Hiring an experience Attorney and private mediator who can represent you and your interest are critical.

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”
— John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

 

 

Coping through the virus shutdown

By Michelle E. Watson

By now, many businesses are re-opening and governors are trying to implement the best ways to revive their states’ economies. If your area is one that is still shutdown, whether partially or completely, you may be wondering if it will ever end, and how you are going to make it through if the shutdown continues much longer.

If you find yourself depressed or anxious, take a breath and remember that depression and anxiety are largely caused by the things you think about. It is not enough, though, for someone to say, “Don’t think about…” You must replace the thoughts you don’t want to think. You will cope with the effects of the national shutdown by focusing on the positive things about being “stuck” at home.

  1. If you have a family or children at home, you get to spend more time with them. The time can be as fun as you make it. Typically, online or distance education takes a small portion of the day. Use the rest of the day to embrace your children and be thankful they are home instead of risking getting sick. Make it fun.
  2. You can observe your children and their homework firsthand to see where they might need help. One family knew their child needed help in school that she was not getting. Being home has given them the chance to see not only where she was lacking, but they have been able to observe why she is struggling and how her brain thinks. They are now able to get the appropriate learning disability diagnosis by telling the doctor her exact symptoms.
  3. You don’t have to go anywhere. It can be overwhelming to be forced to meet online. Three online meetings in one day can make you wish you never had to get on the computer again. But, meeting online means you can eliminate your drive time. Instead of planning for drive time, meeting time, and networking time, the only time you now have to schedule is the exact time the meeting will take. All the other time you would have spent in drive time and other activities is now time you can spend being more productive with other tasks.
  4. All or most of your friends and family are home, too. You can now call and check in with and catch up with people you might otherwise be too busy to speak with. They don’t have anywhere to go, so they are more likely to be available or willing to talk.

These are just some of the positive things you can think about or do when time at home has you stressed out. There are many more, but you must be willing to search them out and do those that are best suited for you and your family.