Exercising Supervised Timesharing During Quarantine
Supervised visits are a reality for some families involved in custody disputes, dependency actions, and divorces, as a parent works hard to get back on his feet, to protect a fragile parent/child relationship, and/or to prove his suitability to parent. For families like these, regular supervised visits are essential to allowing the parenting relationship to move forward in a productive and constructive way.
Florida’s laws make no provision for how to exercise even ordinary timesharing during an emergency, such as a hurricane or a Shelter-in Place order, much less what to do if you can only enjoy supervised timesharing.
And, with the courts nearly closed to any motion short of an emergency, which is often defined as “life-threatening,” you will not be heard on what to do until long after the quarantine has been lifted.
So what happens to these vital visits when the world pretty much shuts down under forced lockdown? What are folks actually doing about their supervised timesharing?
What To Do
One of the most obvious solutions in this extraordinary circumstance, assuming that your supervision permits it, is to do what parents who are forced to relocate away from their children do and correspond as though you are “long distance.” Corresponding with your child often via text, e-mail, telephone, video, and pictures for your continuing parent/child relationship may be even more important now, during Safer-at-Home. Children (and even parents!) may have more anxiety and fear about what their future holds during this extra-stressful time. A week’s worth of days is certainly longer from a child’s shorter perspective than it is for his parents. So constant contact will alleviate some of those concerns and allow your child to feel safer in this changing and uncertain world.
There are certain parenting apps, such as My Family Wizard, that allow such communications to be monitored and entered as evidence in court, so they are often a nice option for parents when the circumstances demand it.
Luckily, many visitation centers now provide parents with creative options for supervised visits using electronic methods, like audio and video visits through such virtual platforms as Zoom, GoToMeeting, FaceTime, or Skype. In this digital age, such technological options are often more familiar and therefore appealing to children who are growing up in the computer age and have already become accustomed to building social connections while staring at a computer. And they generally provide more flexible meeting times than in-person visits, often making it easier for parents to maintain their familial relationships with their kids.
However, if this doesn’t appeal to a parent, many centers also offer face-to-face visits in safer environments such as outside in park locations. Of course, there is more risk of viral contamination with these visits, and many of these locations are even closed at this point, but employees at supervision centers are working hard to suggest locations that are safer and less busy than others. Such visits can provide parents and children with normalcy and privacy while still offering the safety of supervision.
Taking Care of Each Other
These innovative options for supervised visits are positive for everyone’s mental health during a difficult period of quarantine. Continuing contact between parents and children offers reassurance and improved outcomes for children, allowing their relationships to thrive, even during difficult times. And isn’t that the crucial goal?
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About this week’s author, Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, two of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed in the United States Supreme Court upon those who have provided exceptional leadership in the American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.