The Challenges of Distance/Remote Learning for Divorced Parents

Distance or Remote Learning for Primary Custodian of the Children in Morris County NJ

All parents in New Jersey, but especially divorced parents, face a tremendous challenge. Many schools have determined that they will substitute in-person schooling with remote learning partially or completely.

There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly impacted our day-to-day lives in numerous ways. Moreover, having to address the large changes in our lifestyles completely to abide by stay-at-home orders and lockdowns, our means of making a living and providing for our families have in many cases been altered or even completely changed forever. All parents in New Jersey, but especially divorced parents, face a tremendous challenge. Many New Jersey schools have determined that they will substitute in-person schooling with remote learning partially or completely.

The question that needs to be addressed is what is a primary custodial parent to do when their child is attending school from home, but they have to leave to go to work? For parents working from home, how can they juggle their responsibilities as the only present caregiver?

The Challenges of Distance Learning for Parents with Physical Custody

Having a child or children at home participating in their school’s distance learning curriculum because of the Coronavirus pandemic not only means a necessity to ensure that your child has a guardian with them during the day. They are also completing all assigned activities and learning outcomes necessary to advance their education. Even the best online learning platforms require mastery by the student or their guardian, and even the most focused student requires support in engaging with the learning tools.

Support Options as a Single Parent in the Legal arena

In an ideal situation, you and your co-parent would revise your parenting time agreement and any custodial arrangements that may exist to navigate the times ahead. To accomplish this, everyone will need to be prepared to communicate and compromise. If you are the custodial parent, express your needs and concerns openly without projecting your insecurity into blame. Use the tenets of nonviolent communication to share how you view the situation and what brings up for you. Then propose specific solutions, both financial and related to your parenting time agreement. Put the changes in writing, ideally in the presence of your attorney.

Contact Our Morristown Divorce and Family Law Attorneys TodayIn cases where parents are unable or unwilling to come to an agreement that disturbs the child’s learning process as little as possible, a parent may petition the court to change the terms of a court-mandated agreement or request additional financial support for this time. If you can prove prima facie evidence to a judge that your current income and the professional situation is no longer sufficient for the financial and custodial responsibilities that the new learning-from-home system requires, you may go before the court and argue for additional financial support. These monies can be used for online tutors and other resources critical to your child’s education. Your co-parent will have the opportunity to provide evidence to the contrary, so for this court-centric process, you will want the support of skilled legal counsel.

Solid advice for Navigating a Child Learning from Home

Set a firm schedule and follow it.

Children and adolescents respond very well to consistency. It is necessary to create a written weekly schedule that includes the child’s classes, meal and snack times, and an opening and closing circle for the day. An opening circle is a time you spend with your child checking in with their emotional health. It provides an opportunity to ask what your child is excited about for the day and what they are nervous about. Use prompts that wake up a child’s brain like what they’d like to do better than yesterday, and wake up their body by doing some stretches and breaths together. A closing circle provides a similar bonding experience at the end of the child’s school day and helps the child transition from “school mode” to “home mode,” even though they are happening in the same place.

Learn to forgive yourself; forgive your co-parent; and forgive your child – and grow from the lessons as much as you all can.

These are unique times, and this is uncharted territory for everyone involved. Syncing into this new process will be an imperfect and sometimes uncomfortable process. Show yourself and everyone involved a bit of grace. Your child gains the most from having loving adults consistently supporting them, not impeccable distance learning experiences. Don’t worry that everything goes perfectly – keeping them safe, fed, engaged, and loved is beyond sufficient, and their resilience will do the rest.

Contact Our Morristown Divorce and Family Law Attorneys Today

At Jacobs Berger, LLC, our attorneys are experienced and skilled at supporting our clients across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in all divorce, custody, and parenting time agreement needs.

To get in touch with our team today to discuss your custody arrangement and needs for modification due to Covid-19, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 710-4366.

About the Author:

Jamie Berger practices exclusively in the area of family law. She has extensive experience in all aspects of litigation in family and appellate court proceedings. Prior to being a partner at Jacobs Berger, Jamie practiced at a boutique Morris County Matrimonial Law Firm for several years. Before that, Jamie served as a Law Clerk for The Honorable Eugene A. Iadanza, J.S.C. in the Monmouth County Superior Court, Family Part.

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