·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

What to Know About Co-Parenting and Virtual School

— April 21, 2022

What can be done? For starters, taking a second look at the custody order may be a good place to start.

In the spring of 2020, COVID-19 forced many schools across California and the rest of the United States to shut down. Even though most of those schools have since reopened, there are still some resorting to online learning as outbreaks and staffing shortages force students and teachers back home. The unpredictability of COVID-19 often has parents scrambling at the last minute, especially when it comes to online learning. From ensuring students have a proper set-up to do their schooling to making sure they have all the necessary supplies, internet access, and passwords to complete assignments, there is a lot for those co-parenting to juggle. This only becomes more complicated for divorced parents.

Is it Time to Update the Custody Agreement?

What can be done? For starters, taking a second look at the custody order may be a good place to start. After all, many families rely on their custody schedules to determine which parent is responsible for the child(ren) on any given day. In some cases, one parent may be responsible for school drop-offs and the other may be responsible for school pick-ups. Online learning does away with school drop-offs and pick-ups, which could put a wrench in an existing custody agreement. On top of that, it could put a disproportionate burden on one parent over the other if the responsibility of providing guidance and support to the child(ren) falls on one parent.

To ensure both parents have the chance to help their child(ren) navigate online schooling whenever it becomes necessary, they should consider updating the custody agreement. If needed, a brand-new co-parenting custody arrangement may even be needed. The goal of any agreement should always have the best interest and needs of the child(ren) in mind, while also ensuring both parents, if able, are part of their child(ren)’s upbringing.

Tips for Successful Virtual Schooling

Making sure children succeed at online school takes dedication and time from parents. Parents, from California to Mississippi to Maine were quick to learn at the start of COVID-19 of all the distractions that exist at home that can make it hard for children to focus on school. Below are some tips to help families navigate virtual school when an outbreak or staff shortage demands the sudden switch to virtual school.

Children wearing masks. Image via (CCA-BY-0.0).
  • Cut down on the distractions. Keep the t.v. off, try to keep younger children away from the children trying to concentrate on school, and limit other distractions.
  • Have a dedicated place for schoolwork, such as a desk set up in the child(ren)’s bedroom.
  • Have a daily schedule. Stick to a routine.
  • Limit screen time when school isn’t in session. It’s easy for children to get burnt out on screens.

It’s important to note that managing all of this in one home is difficult on its own. Trying to juggle everything between two homes can be even more difficult. It’s important for both parents to understand the importance of a school routine, and that a dedicated space for schoolwork in each home is beneficial for the child(ren). If one parent is unable to accommodate virtual school, this should be taken into consideration when mapping out or updating a co-parenting custody agreement.

If you’re a divorced parent trying to figure out how to co-parent amid virtual school and all the other uncertainties of COVID-19, contact an experienced family law attorney. There are many attorneys in California, from Sacramento to San Francisco and beyond that specialize in helping families reach a custody agreement that works for everyone.

Join the conversation!