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Gary Direnfeld

Re-Opening: Keeping Kids Safe from Covid-19 Between Separated Parents

Eventually things will open up, there may be celebrations to attend and school is on the horizon. However, many parents will still be concerned about the spread of Covid-19.

Fears may abound and if not for the child directly, then for others in the home who may be vulnerable with whom the children will have contact.

When parents are on the same page, it is easy to come up with plans to manage. Indeed, those plans can be remarkably variable from one family to another, but when separated parents have divergent views, then what do you do?

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As with any parenting dispute, we seek for parent to resolve their matters as peacefully as possible, between themselves and without bringing the kids into the decision-making process.

Although there is now guidance from the Courts with regard to prioritizing safety, it still remains to be determined the degree of risk faced for child or other family member, depending on many variables. As such, current available guidance from the court may fall short.

Given the medical nature of the issue, what may be advisable is a consultation from the child’s physician. If a parent is concerned that source of information is biased, then ask for a referral to another physician for the consultation. The key here is to obtain an informed and neutral medical opinion to further parental discussion and resolution. From there you may still negotiate a resolution between yourselves.

However, if truly misaligned on the issue, through your lawyers you can work out an agreement that whatever the physician recommends, you agree to abide by the recommendation. This would be required before receiving the consultation.

Although this sounds a bit like arbitration, the difference here is that you are not asking the doctor to arbitrate, but only recommend. The agreement remains between the parent to simply heed the recommendation.

Following this course of action may leave one parent unsatisfied still not liking the outcome. However, this may be the quickest and least expensive route for resolution if the matter would otherwise head to court.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW is a Canadian Social Worker in private practice. He is recognized from his 65 episodes of the hit show Newlywed/Nearly Dead, to over 650 columns as the parenting expert of a major metropolitan newspaper, to more than 350 media appearances, to his book, Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout Canada and the US and helps family peacemakers grow their practice.

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