Challenges for Shared parenting During COVID-19
Sir,– In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Treoir, the National Federation of Services for Unmarried Parents and their Children, has received a greatly increased number of calls from unmarried parents about access and custody orders in the wake of social distancing recommendations by the HSE. In the last week, the vast majority of Treoir’s calls are from concerned unmarried parents in relation to access and custody to their children.
Parents are justifiably concerned about the safety of their children during the Covid-19 crisis and are attempting to limit contact with others as per the guidelines. However, where possible, we would encourage unmarried parents who are not living together to maintain access and custody arrangements so that children can continue to have a relationship with both parents.
Difficulties in stopping or reviewing access may have a huge impact on children who may already feel anxious due to school closures and feeling isolated from their friends and family members.
The current crisis could provide an opportunity in some cases for parents to increase contact in order to support primary carers who are doing much of the parenting particularly while schools are closed. People need to follow guidelines in order to safeguard older relatives or those at risk, but it is important court orders granting access are respected, unless there are public-health reasons for doing otherwise. Unmarried parents can be creative and imaginative in finding ways for all parents to stay in touch with their children.
Treoir recognises this is a difficult time for unmarried parents and would urge people to communicate respectfully with each other around access. In a time of crisis it is important to understand each other’s anxieties and to assist the other parent with their parenting role.
Treoir staff will continue to provide information to unmarried parents and to the organisations and professionals that work with them. – Yours, etc,