Briana “Brie” A. Stevens
During these uncertain times, many parents and custodial caretakers wonder how the coronavirus (COVID-19) safety protocols impact their court ordered custody and visitation arrangements. On March 30, 2020, Virginia Governor Northam issued a statewide stay at home order, Executive Order Number 55 (the “Executive Order”). The Executive Order states that Virginians must remain in their place of residence, except as provided by the Executive Order and previously issued Executive Order 53. One of the exceptions to the Order is, “traveling required by court order or to facilitate child custody, visitation, or child care.” Therefore, it is permissible to leave your residence in order to participate in a visitation exchange.
Court ordered visitation schedules should continue as usual for exchanges between healthy households. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is not an excuse to withhold visitation between healthy households. If a child, parent, or another household member has been infected with or exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19) then that individual should follow the directions issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and their physician for the appropriate quarantine measures. Parents should work together to ensure a parent has the opportunity to make up missed parenting, if visitation is lost due to a period of quarantine.
We encourage parents to use common sense and be cooperative during this trying time, especially considering that the Supreme Court of Virginia declared a judicial emergency in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) until April 26, 2020. This means that the Circuit Court, General District Court, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court are only hearing emergency and essential hearings. The majority of custody, visitation, child support and spousal support hearings are continued until after April 26, 2020, and new matters are being set for the summer and early fall. The lack of immediate court access serves only to emphasize the importance of parents and custodial caretakers working together for the best interest of the children, as it may be some time before your matter will be heard in court.
If you need to speak to an attorney about custody, visitation, child support do not hesitate to contact the family and domestic law team at Wharton, Aldhizer & Weaver, PLC. We are offering phone consultations for the foreseeable future so we can serve the needs of our potential clients while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of others in our community.
Commonwealth of Virginia Office of the Governor Executive Order Number 55: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/executive-actions/EO-55-Temporary-Stay-at-Home-Order-Due-to-Novel-Coronavirus-(COVID-19).pdf