Keeping The Peace: Divorce Mediation Lessons For Isolation

The first COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in the United States in January, and by mid-March, much of the country was facing some kind of lockdown order. Now, with June around the corner, only a handful of states have substantially relaxed restrictions, and even in those areas, many don’t feel safe to go out unless it’s absolutely necessary. Instead, we’ve all been at home, trying to keep the peace with our spouses, children, and neighbors – with varying degrees of success.

If you’ve noticed that tensions are on the rise, whether in the form of increased sibling rivalry or domestic disputes, you’re hardly alone, but the good news is there are solutions that can help. By drawing on the wisdom of divorce mediators, you can successfully navigate everything from tense co-parenting decisions to more mundane household issues. These experts know their way around sticky situations and they’ve got your back.

Co-Parenting Crises

Peaceful co-parenting is difficult at the best of times, but co-parenting in a crisis may as well be considered an extreme sport. How, for example, are you supposed to stick to a split custody arrangement, even in the same city, when no one is supposed to be traveling? And what if you and your ex have different expectations and standards around social distancing? These are hard questions, and they’re amplified further if anyone in your household is high risk.

When working with divorced couples on co-parenting arrangements, the mediation attorneys at Rowdy G. Williams Law Firm typically recommend drawing up a custody agreement that results in minimum disruption to the child or children’s lives. In this moment of crisis, though, reducing disruption may require you and your ex to revisit your current arrangements. This may be a good time to break custodial time into larger, or for the child to remain with the lower risk parent, with the agreements that the other parent can have equal time after social distancing measures end.

The bottom line here is that, unlike some other COVID-fueled conflicts, when addressing co-parenting issues, it’s important for both parents to be clear that the child’s interests and everyone’s safety comes first.

Not So Neighborly

Whatever problems suburbanites may be having with their neighbors in regards to social distancing, conflicts are likely to be most acute right now amongst city dwellers who are piled atop their neighbors with no escape. If you’re in this group, you know that in large apartments and condos, you may be able to hear every movement your neighbors make, which can be disruptive to those working from home or who may be ill and trying to rest. Childless neighbors may object to the noise from another’s children being home. The list of potential complaints is lengthy, but the solutions are simple – it’s all about getting to the heart of the issue.

When it comes to conflicts between neighbors, spouses, or even siblings, the initial complaint is rarely the core issue at play. Rather, a recent event has tipped the scales, revealing bigger, underlying issues. Maybe you always thought your neighbor was too loud or you’re actually upset they leave a mess in the hallway. Sometimes the problem isn’t even related to the person bearing the brunt of your frustration – this is particularly true right now, when everyone is under enormous stress. That’s why, before you start an argument, it’s important to spend some time with your own feelings and see what you uncover.

Balancing Law And Logic

One of the most significant challenges when it comes to navigating social and personal relationships during the current pandemic is striking a balance between law and logic. Sure, many states stay-at-home orders specify that children may move between custodial parents’ homes in accordance with existing custody agreements, but it’s up to families to decide whether that’s the right choice, which is where mediation comes in. Similarly, you may be legally required to keep your children home from school, but that doesn’t mean your neighbors want to hear their 8 AM dance party.

At a time when everything is a special challenge, we’re all just trying to get by, but factoring others’ needs into our choices can make a big difference. Make room for conversation, for tension, and take care of yourself. Lay down some ground rules where you can. A little conversation and de-escalation can go a long way towards smoother social distancing.