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Coronavirus and Custody: Implications of Stay at Home Orders

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Christian M. Lapham
April 20, 2020

On March 23, 2020, Governor Northam issued Executive Order 53, and a week later issued Executive Order 55, which together have defined the Commonwealth’s stay at home regulations for individuals and businesses. In our last posting prior to Executive Order 55, we opined that custody orders should still be followed even where there was no direct guidance from the government as to how the stay at home order would impact existing custody orders.

Fortunately, Executive Order 55 allows people to leave home for the purpose of “[t]raveling required by court order or to facilitate child custody, visitation, or child care.” This ensures that the Order itself does not preclude custody or visitation arrangements from proceeding. However, the current environment and highly contagious and deadly aspect of COVID-19 gives litigant parents basis to modify or curtail the other party’s access to the child or children. To do so, however, one should consult counsel and possibly seek a modification of the existing court order. It will not be enough to simply rely upon the existing pandemic or the Governor’s stay at home order as a basis to refuse access to a child when the order provides otherwise.   

This article does not constitute legal advice. This situation is rapidly evolving, so these answers may change with time. If you have questions regarding your specific case or set of circumstances, consult with your family law attorney. We are here to answer your questions and field your concerns. As always, please stay safe.