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Pandemic Protocols Get Complicated For Ex-Partners Navigating Child Custody

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA


On today's program: Custody exchanges are being adapted for social distancing measures; why misinformation and disinformation spread in uncertain times; what’s available for the thousands of Pennsylvanians who’ve filed for unemployment; and the pandemic’s impact on the coal industry. 

Custody agreements pose new problems for parents during pandemic
(00:00 — 6:17) 

After a divorce or separation, children often move back and forth between their parents’ homes. But amid the coronavirus pandemic, some parents with court-ordered custody exchanges have concerns about how to follow proper social distancing measures while keeping up those agreements.

Susan Abramowich, a managing attorney for family law at Neighborhood Legal Services, says her clients are dealing with that very issue. 

“They worry about, you know, whether everyone is following the same rules, whether the pandemic is being taken seriously by the other parent,” she says. “Oftentimes our clients are seeing financial stresses. The kids are home. They already, perhaps, have a rocky relationship with their ex. So, these are all, you know, things that are just adding to each other and causing additional pressures on the family.” 

To limit a child’s chance of exposure while dealing with custody arrangements during the pandemic, Abramowich recommends that parents set aside personal differences, for the good of both children and their guardians. 

Why are misinformation and disinformation thriving?
(6:22 — 10:16) 

Bad information—intentional or not—can thrive in times of uncertainty, and the coronavirus outbreak is no exception. But what happens when people believe and make choices based on those falsehoods? 

Mike Wereschagin, an investigative reporter for The Caucus, discusses why disinformation and misinformation are thriving, and what people can do to vet what they see and hear online. 

Full scope of unemployment in PA remains unknown
(10:20 — 14:30) 

Pennsylvania has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, but many who are out of work due to the shutdown are still struggling to get federal help. 

90.5 WESA’s Margaret J. Krauss reports that although Pennsylvania’s Office of Unemployment Compensation has hired hundreds to staff the phones and fields thousands of claims each day, some still can’t get through. 

Coal mines hit hard by slow economy
(14:34 — 18:02) 

The coal industry has been struggling for years, reports the Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier, and now as coal mines are closing and bankruptcies are piling up, the pandemic is hitting the coal industry especially hard.

90.5 WESA’s Julia Zenkevich contributed to this report. 

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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