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We were ready to separate, and then the COVID-19 Stay-At-Home Order was implemented by Governor Hogan. Now what?

I have a handful of clients in this exact situation and all of them are finding it increasingly difficult to share space in a home they no longer want to share with the other. In addition to grudgingly sharing the space, they are attempting to do so while one or both are working from home or while one is working and the other is laid off, while attempting to assist their children with distance/remote learning, and while juggling the household tasks of cooking cleaning, paying bills, etc. Needless to say emotions are on the rise. In a few of the cases I have been able to work out agreed upon designated areas (specific rooms) for each party to conduct their working from home duties, along with times for the use of those spaces, scheduling days and/or subjects each parent is responsible for assisting the children with their education, and how to handle the payment of expenses. While not a permanent solution, ‘rules’ to follow hopefully give the parents and children some consistency to reduce the tension in household.

If you find yourself in a situation such as this some considerations to develop a plan for your home environment during the COVID-19 confinement are:

What are each parents work-related commitments, days and times?
What type of space do they need to complete their work related tasks? For example, a good wi-fi signal, a quiet space, a space where they can speak to others, or a space to move around?
What are the remote/distance learning requirements for each child? Some considerations may be times of day, need for computer use, need for video-conferencing, is work required to be completed at a certain time or day?
Can either parent alter their schedule to accommodate the children on certain days of the week?
What can be designated as family space for use at all times or during a specific period of time?
Would it be helpful to contact a therapist via telehealth to address concerns and allocation of space and tasks?

There is not a simple or one size fits all solution to these unfamiliar times and circumstances, but with a little thought and creativity some temporary solutions may be reached and get your family through this crisis. If you need help starting the conversation or developing a temporary plan, we encourage you to reach out to an experienced family law attorney.

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