By: Faith Twiggs, Allen Sheehan, Bob Meadows, and Blake Brookshire
Last week, Alabama’s Governor Kay Ivey issued what media outlets are calling a “Stay-at-Home Order.” You might be wondering what impact this order has on child custody or visitation.
What does the Order say about custody and visitation?
The Order requires every person to stay at his or her house except as necessary to perform certain “essential activities.” The Order specifically states that “[a] person may leave his or her place of residence to travel as required by law enforcement or court order, including the transportation of children required by a custody agreement.” You may continue to meet your co-parent or relative as you already do for custody or visitation exchanges. The fact that this is even referenced implies that regular custodial arrangements should continue during this time if they can safely be performed.
Should I do anything differently in light of the Stay-at-Home Order?
It is a good idea to keep a copy of your Divorce Decree or Custody Agreement in your car. This way, if law enforcement questions you about your reason for being on the road or for meeting another vehicle in a public place, you can show the officer your Court Order.
Additionally, many agreements call for the parties to meet in public places for custody or visitation exchanges, such as parking lots, courthouses or even police stations. If you are meeting in a public place, be sure to follow the CDC’s recommendations for maintaining a distance of six feet from others and limiting exposure to large groups.
Finally, in this time of change and uncertainty, it is crucial to make co-parenting decisions that are in the best interest of your children. Many Custody Agreements permit parents to alter custodial time by agreement. If yours does not have this provision, you might want to seek a modification or at least have something in writing reflecting any agreed upon change to the agreement. Likely some circumstance in your life, your co-parent’s life, and your children’s lives have changed in the last few weeks. It is crucial that parents work together and cooperate with each other to share in childcare responsibilities.
If you have questions, call Capell & Howard at 334-241-8000 and ask for one of our domestic relations attorneys: Bob Meadows, Allen Sheehan, Faith Twiggs, or Blake Brookshire.