Author: Lorraine Mlambo is an Edmonton based Family Lawyer.
COVID-19: Guidelines For Parents Sharing Custody
Like a thief in the night, we never saw this coming. The Covid-19 pandemic is the unseen common enemy that has wreaked unprecedented havoc around the world, leaving a trail of disaster, deaths, uncertainty, and confusion. This pandemic will undoubtedly pose a challenge for parents who are already separated or going through a separation and sharing custody during COVID-19. To help parents through these trying times, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) have issued the following helpful guidelines:
Comply with all CDC and local and state guidelines and model good behavior for your children with intensive hand washing, wiping down surfaces and other objects that are frequently touched, and maintaining social distancing. This also means BE INFORMED. Stay in touch with the most reliable media sources and avoid the rumor mill on social media.
Be honest about the seriousness of the pandemic but maintain a calm attitude and convey to your children your belief that everything will return to normal in time. Avoid making careless comments in front of the children and exposing them to endless media coverage intended for adults. Don’t leave the news on 24/7, for instance. But, at the same time, encourage your children to ask questions and express their concerns and answer them truthfully at a level that is age appropriate.
BE COMPLIANT WITH COURT ORDERS AND CUSTODY AGREEMENTS.
As much as possible, try to avoid reinventing the wheel despite the unusual circumstances. The custody agreement or court order exists to prevent endless haggling over the details of timesharing. In some jurisdictions there are even standing orders mandating that, if schools are closed, custody agreements should remain in force as though school were still in session.
At the same time, it would be foolish to expect that nothing will change when people are being advised not to fly and vacation attractions such as amusement parks, museums and entertainment venues are closing all over the US and the world. In addition, some parents will have to work extra hours to help deal with the crisis and other parents may be out of work or working reduced hours for a time. Plans will inevitably have to change. Encourage closeness with the parent who is not going to see the child through shared books, movies, games and FaceTime or Skype.
Normally, I work outside of the house and due to class cancellations I’m home with the kids. I honestly thought the Social Distancing (as per the awesome Dr. Henshaw’s suggestion) wouldn’t get to me.
Well, I was wrong.
It was 10am on the second day when I finally broke down. I cried, a lot. I cried for the people who are sick, I cried for the people who’ve died, I cried and cried and cried. And then, I heard my kids playing and I told myself I had to stop.
There are people out there on the front line – grocery workers, nurses, doctors, police, fire, 911 operators, the list goes on and on. Like all the memes say – We can stay home – for them and for everyone.
So I made myself a list of 5 things that I can do to save my sanity.
There are so many people offering free live, or affordable online memberships. I’ve been watching two in particular myself – Fitcityguide and Metta Yoga but I would LOVE to hear if you’ve found awesome resources!
Up until 2 weeks ago, my work was full time. 730 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday, both kids in Daycare. No flexibility, no leaving early, or even really being able to stay home with the kids if they were sick.
PS – this is not a political opinion post.
This was a change after having an incredibly flexible, work from home or partial work from home job since my daughter was 1. I started this full time gig just before she turned 9.
I loved my work.
I loved the customers, I loved my co-workers and I loved the daily challenges. I respected and grew to care for the people I worked with. BUT there was certainly “culture shock”.
The kids being in daycare, coming home spouting opinions and “Well, Dayhome Lady says…” 9 hours of my day not seeing them. By the time I got home and made supper, it was pretty much shower and to bed. There was one time my son was a bystander of a fight on the bus, a kids head hit into his mouth knocking one tooth out, and he was bleeding. I wasn’t there at the stop for him. Dayhome was. It broke my heart.
As the holiday season approaches a favourite activity for many families across Alberta is to check out the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train.
This year live entertainment from Dec 5th – 7th will be from Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo and then for the rest of the way it will be Terri Clark! Warm-up around the bonfires while sipping some hot chocolate, and of course seeing all of the beautiful lights that decorate the train cars.
Here is where you can see the Holiday Train for 2019:
|Provost||Field adjacent to railway tracks at 50th Avenue and 46th Street||2019-12-5||5:55 PM||6:00 PM – 6:30 PM||Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo|
|Hardisty||East end of CP railway yard, west of Highway 881 overpass||2019-12-5||9:00 PM||9:15 PM – 9:45 PM||Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo|
|Camrose||52 Avenue and 50 Street, next to Moose Family Centre||2019-12-6||1:05 PM||1:15 PM – 1:45 PM||Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo|
|Wetaskawin||CP ES Building, 4009 50 Street||2019-12-6||3:25 PM||3:30 PM – 4:00 PM||Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo|
|Ponoka||50th Street and 47 Avenue||2019-12-6||5:00 PM||5:15 PM – 5:45 PM||Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo|
|Lacombe||Len Thompson Fish Pond||2019-12-6||6:50 PM||7:00 PM – 7:30 PM||Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo|
|BlackFalds||CP tracks at Greg Street between Broadway Avenue and East Avenue||2019-12-6||8:05 PM||8:15 PM – 8:45 PM||Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo|
|Innisfail||52 Avenue and 50 Street crossing||2019-12-7||1:15 PM||1:25 PM – 1:55 PM||Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo|
|Olds||50th Street Level Crossing||2019-12-7||2:45 PM||3:00 PM – 3:30 PM||Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo|
|Didsbury||CP Mainline, 20th Street and 18th Avenue||2019-12-7||4:05 PM||4:15 PM – 4:45 PM||Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo|
|Airdrie||Nose Creek Park, Main Street, East side of CP tracks||2019-12-7||5:45 PM||6:00 PM – 6:30 PM||Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo|
|Calgary||Anderson C-Train Station – South C-train parking lot||2019-12-8||5:45 PM||6:00 PM – 6:45 PM||Terri Clark|
|Okotoks||Along Dagget Street between Northridge Drive and Veterans||2019-12-10||12:00 PM||12:15 PM – 12:45 PM||Terri Clark|
|Blackie||Across from Post Office at 1201 Railway Avenue||2019-12-10||1:35 PM||1:45 PM – 2:15 PM||Terri Clark|
|Vulcan||CP crossing at 1st Avenue and 2nd Street||2019-12-10||3:15 PM||3:30 PM – 4:00 PM||Terri Clark|
|Lethbridge||2nd Avenue North and 12th Street, behind Save On Foods||2019-12-10||7:00 PM||7:15 PM – 7:45 PM||Terri Clark|
|Fort McLeod||Level Railway Crossing on 5th Avenue||2019-12-11||9:15 AM||9:15 AM – 9:45 AM||Terri Clark|
|Pincher Creek||Mile 61.12 – Railway Crossing Range Road 302 off Highway 3||2019-12-11||10:35 AM||10:45 AM – 11:15 AM||Terri Clark|
|Coleman||South of 17th Avenue between 69th and 70th Street||2019-12-11||12:40 PM||12:45 PM – 1:15 PM||Terri Clark|
Also, don’t forget to bring healthy non-perishable food donations (or cash to donate instead) which will go towards local food banks in your community to help those in need.
For more information or to get live updates you can check out www.cpr.ca
Sometimes I look back on when my kids were really little and think to myself; What would I have done without the nurses at 811?
Of course as Canadians we are lucky in a lot of ways, but I’m specifically talking about our access to health advice.
Back then, I had 811 on speed dial. I don’t know how I would have got through those years without it. Even now I’ll call ahead of taking them directly to the hospital. Obviously if it was something really serious I would take them straight there but, thankfully I’ve almost always been able to use the advice I receive to help.
How long is too long for a fever to last?
How many times is too many times for my kid to have puked in 1 hr?
At what point is a cough not just a cough anymore?
What the heck is this bump on their toe?
What is 811?
811 is Health Link. By dialing 811 you gain access to quick and easy advice from a registered nurse 24/7.
There is also really great information at your fingertips on myhealth.alberta.ca
So, thank you. Thank you to all the medical staff that work tirelessly in our hospitals and on the phones.
We are grateful for you!
Remember, in a medical emergency, always call 911 or visit the nearest emergency department.