What Does the COVID-19 Stay at Home Order Mean for My Custody Order?

March 2020: Today, both the St. Louis County Executive and the St. Louis City Mayor announced the decision to put into place a Stay at Home Order, which requires people to remain in their homes whenever possible for the next 30 days in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Essentially, every resident in the City and County must stay at home, subject to several exceptions for essential activities. Jefferson County and St. Charles County have also recently enacted Stay at Home orders as well.

What does that mean for exchanging your children under a court-ordered parenting schedule? The Stay at Home Order is very clear that one of the “essential activities” under the Stay at Home Order is any activity that is “essential for a parent with legal custody to transfer the physical custody of a child.” In essence, you may leave your home to exchange your child or children with the other parent. In fact, since your custody schedule is a court order, you MUST follow your custody order.

Fear and anxiety can cause us to have strong reactions to protect our families.  You may be tempted to keep your children with you as an attempt to control a situation that is largely out of our control. However, your custody schedule is in place to prevent endless arguing over the details of parenting time. Your children need their lives to continue as normal as possible, despite all the upheaval they are undergoing currently. 

The Missouri Association of Family and Conciliation Courts issued a joint statement with the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers entitled “7 Guidelines for Parents Who Are Divorced/Separated and Sharing Custody of Children During the COVID19 Pandemic.”  Every parent that finds himself or herself in this situation will greatly benefit from their advice.  

With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. For questions or to schedule a confidential consultation, contact our team.