Child Custody Schedules During a Quarantine
California is currently under a quarantine order as required by the Governor’s office, which has limited travel to essential services and put restrictions on public gatherings. Families are all dealing with effects in different ways, from homeschooling children to avoiding any outdoor or recreational activities. However, for divorced or separated parents, there are many questions about child custody plans and if they are allowed to transfer their child between households.
Covid-19 Shelter-in-Place Order
As seen in other countries around the world and some cities in the United States, COVID-19 can spread rapidly in public places, from malls to gyms to airports. Social distancing, which can vary from self-quarantining at home to maintaining a six-foot distance between all other individuals, has shown some effectiveness at combatting the spread of the virus. As such, California Governor Gavin Newsman has placed an executive order to close all non-essential businesses for the time being, prohibit large gatherings in indoor spaces, and placed travel restrictions on non-essential activities.
What is “essential” during the COVID-19 quarantine? Well, the California State Public Health Office has outlined multiple essential services that can remain open, including:
- State and local government services, including law enforcement, the postal service, and emergency response
- Hospitals, doctor’s offices, and urgent cares
- Grocery stores, farmer markets, convenience stores, and pharmacies
- Restaurants that provide take-out and delivery options (dine-in is prohibited)
- Gas stations
- Laundry services
- Daycare for parents who work in essential areas
This is a statewide order that takes priority over any local laws. You are legally allowed to visit any of these types of businesses and services at this time, though you are advised to practice “social-distancing,” such as keeping six-feet away from other people, when going out.
Schools are also closed and many parents who are out of work during this period are choosing to stay home to take care of them. For parents who work in an essential industry, daycares are still open, and you are allowed to have a babysitter come over, though you should do everything you can to maximize your child’s health and safety. In addition to the businesses you are allowed to visit, you may also travel to take care of a family member or friend who needs assistance, either due to an illness or disability.
Can I Transfer My Child During the Travel Restrictions?
While there is no restriction or exception specifically for exchanging a child between parents, California residents are allowed to leave their homes to care for family members. Ensuring your child gets to spend time with his or her other parent – or that you get to spend time with your child – does fall under this category. As such, you are allowed to follow your current custody plan without limitations.
However, if you work in the medical field or are at high risk of catching COVID-19, you may consider temporarily modifying your custody plan for your child’s safety. In addition, if your child contracts the illness, you may be instructed by medical professionals to place them in quarantine to prevent the other parent from becoming sick.
At the end of the day, the health and safety of your child should supersede your custody plan. Both parents should agree to abide by social distancing practices and avoid spending times with friends or attending large gatherings. This is especially important if your child has a compromised immune system, such as asthma.
You may also consider alternative forms of visitation if you are worried about exposing your child to the virus. Video chats, phone calls, and even letters are a better alternative to exposing your child to the virus. Services such as Discord, Zoom, and Netflix Party have become popular ways to watch movies and TV shows for families that are separated.
If another parent does not agree to a custody plan or is ignoring the Shelter-in-Place order and you are worried your child may be exposed, please contact a San Diego child custody attorney at Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. We can serve as a mediator between you and the other parent to ensure that you both understand your legal obligations to protecting your child’s health. San Diego courts are also opened in a limited capacity to handle emergency orders and our law firm may be able to file an emergency temporary custody order. Call us at (858) 458-9500 to learn what options are currently available to you.