Governor Halcomb issued a “Stay at Home” Order (Executive Order 20-08) on March 23, 2020 directing individuals to stay at home unless they are engaging in essential services or essential activities. The Order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 24, 2020 and terminates at 11:59 p.m. on April 6, 2020. This Order can be extended, modified, or rescinded as necessary by the rapidly situation.
The Stay at Home Order, along with the directive to practice social distancing and isolation, has caused confusion for parents who have a child that resides in two separate residences. Many parents are questing whether parenting time is an “essential activity” and whether they can travel to exchange their child for parenting time. The Executive Order specifically authorizes parents to travel to exchange their child for parenting time when parenting time is ordered pursuant to a Court Order. Section 16(e) provides that travel is allowed when it is required by court order, “including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement.” Further, Section 7 defines “essential activities” which are permitted under the Executive Order. Subsection (e) indicated an essential activity is to take care of others, including “to transport family members, friends, or pets as allowed by this Executive Order.”
Each family will need to assess their particular circumstances to determine whether it is safe for their child to be exchanged between different residences. If a child is being exchanged between two residences, each family should include the child as part of their quarantine group and take precautions when the child comes back into their home, including showering and changing clothes upon returning to one residence from the other. Ultimately, if a parent feels that their child is in danger by exercising parenting time with their other parent, the parent should petition the Court for an urgent hearing on the matter.
Our office is committed to staying up to date on the rapidly changing situation so that we can best serve our clients. If you have questions about the impact of the Stay at Home Order for your family, please contact our office by telephone, video conferencing, or email to discuss your specific circumstances.