Jon Rogers

Navigating parenting time is already frequently challenging when changes and uncertainties arise due to illnesses, school scheduling and changes in work schedules.  If you are a parent in Michigan or Indiana, add the national COVID-19 epidemic in the Spring of 2020 to the mix, and even more questions are entered into the equation.  How are we to interpret these Executive Orders entered by the governors of Michigan and Indiana? 

The straightforward answer is the Executive Orders do not nullify or prevent travel for parenting time. 

Specifically, in Michigan Executive Order 2020-21, sections 7.a.7 & 7.a.8, allow individuals to leave their home and travel as necessary to care for a family member and to care for minors.  And further, section 7.b.4 specifically states, “Individuals may also travel as required by law enforcement or a court order, including the transportation of children pursuant to a custody agreement.” 

In Indiana, Executive Order 20-08 section 7.e allows for an individual to leave their home for the care of a family member.  Furthermore, section 16.e defines essential travel as travel required to include transportation of children “pursuant to a custody agreement.” 

The Executive Orders of these states make expressly clear that the travel ban should not prevent parents from following court-ordered parenting time. 

However, there are potential considerations to take into account, including whether someone in the household has been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, thus requiring isolation. The isolation requirement, of course, would necessitate a temporary suspension of parenting time, to be made up later.  If these facts emerge in your specific case, you should attempt to resolve them with your co-parent first, and if no resolution can be found, you should immediately seek the assistance of an attorney familiar with the custody laws of your state and the local courts. 

As the Courts are currently limited in what they are capable of hearing due to the COVID-19 virus and applicable travel bans, it is important to contact an attorney with experience to ensure any type of emergency motion is promptly filed as necessary and a Judge can decide any dispute that might exist in a quick and decisive manner during this pandemic. 

This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

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