During the current World upheaval, parents are looking for guidance on a number of fronts. One of the concerns divorced and separated parents have is “Do we continue to exchange our children during this period of time?” On March 23, 2020 Governor Holcomb issued Executive Order 20-08, which among many issues addressed parenting time.
Remember, everyone, including Parents, should follow every court order that concerns them or their children, unless that court order has been superseded. Governor Holcomb’s Order did not set aside any previously ordered Parenting Time Orders. The Order, however, did address the need to follow Parenting Time Orders in two places.
Section 7 of the Order titled “Leaving the Home for Essential Activities is Permitted.” The term “Essential Activities” is not per se defined in the Order. “Essential” is defined in the dictionary as being “indispensable” or “necessary”. Section 7 reads “For purposes of this Executive Order, individuals may leave their homes or residences only to perform any of the following, which are deemed to be “Essential Activities” . . . e. to transport family members . . . as allowed by this Executive Order.” Therefore, under 7e the transporting of children for parenting time is an indispensable and necessary activity.
Reading the Order further, Section 16 “Essential Travel” states “For the purposes of this Executive Order, the phrase “Essential Travel” includes travel for any of the following purposes . . . e. Travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement.” In other words, transporting your child to visit with the other parent is defined as “Essential Travel”.
The world will be different when the COVID 19 virus and the circumstances we find ourselves in are back to whatever normal will be. One thing that will not be changed though is that Courts will have expected parents to follow the previous parenting time orders and will not accept arguments for not transporting them. Each parent should consider the best interests of their child and remember that the child needs to continue to have parenting time with each parent that courts have not forbidden them to be with.