What happens to child visitation agreements during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Posted at 11:58 PM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 07:01:31-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Divorced parents with children are having to grapple with the reality of social distancing while sharing custody of their kids, but legal experts say COVID-19 doesn't change the rules of their custody agreements and visitation schedules.

Family lawyer Mark Englisby said that parents who don't follow court orders could find themselves in trouble with a judge when courts reopen.

"If a parent withheld visitation of the child, that could be either a violation of court order, or could be seen as a negative factor in determining what is in the child's best interest," Englisby said. "Neither parent should withhold visitation."

Courts in Virginia are closed due to judicial emergency declared in the wake of COVID-19, but parents who withhold visitation may have to face a judge when they reopen.

COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.