Stay At Home Orders and Custody Orders

Wondering what’s required or expected with regard to your custody orders in this unusual time? Below is what the St. Louis County Family Court expects. My advice is that this is a time to practice your best co-parenting and communication skills as you navigate through this with the mental and physical health of your children and both co-parents in mind. If communication is difficult, an hour or two on a video conference with a mediator could be time well spent.

Here’s the court guidance:
Effective April 6, 2020: any Court Order regarding child custody which is otherwise valid, shall remain in full force and effect. Law enforcement shall have authority to enforce custody, visitation and parenting time orders as long as enforcement does not contradict any Order of St. Louis County Juvenile Court, or any self-quarantine guidelines of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other state or federal agency promulgated to contain COVID-19.

If compliance with the custody, visitation or parenting time order would be impossible or dangerous (for example, because a member of the receiving parent’s household has been exposed to COVID-19), the parents are encouraged to make alternative arrangements for exchange by agreement, which may result in extending the time with each parent and /or make up time. If parents are unable to agree, the parties may seek relief through the appropriate legal process. In the absence of an agreement or court order, all parties are expected to safely comply with existing court orders.

Failure to exercise prudent caution may be grounds for a temporary restraining order. Likewise, failure or refusal to comply with a Court Order relating to custody and visitation of children may be grounds for a finding of contempt, which could result in a modification of custody, a fine or monetary sanctions, or imprisonment.

Amato Family Law is available to assist you during this time. Feel free to contact us to discuss your needs and options.