How to manage joint custody during a stay-at-home order

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphians are required to stay at home to prevent the spread of coronavirus, except for essential needs, like groceries or medical services.

But for divorced parents, how do custody agreements come into play?

Attorney Cheryl Young said you still have to abide by your arrangements during a stay-at-home order.

“Both the governor and the courts are taking the position that transitioning your children is an essential function under the order that the governor has handed down,” she explained.

But if you're uncomfortable with moving your children to and from your homes during the pandemic, Young said the best thing to do is have a conversation with your co-parent. 

Melanie Levin said she and her ex-husband adjusted their schedules in light of COVID-19.

“For example, our normal Wednesday overnight may have gotten shifted to like a Thursday evening preceding his weekend, so that there's not as much shifting back and forth,” she said.

Levin is actually more concerned about the novel virus than custody arrangements.

“I am very worried that I could have car trouble and need to stop and encounter people along the way,” she said.

On the other hand, she said it gives her kids a change of scenery.

“They get to have a change of pace; they get to have a break from one parent,” she said.

Of course, this is all easier said than done. What if one parent refuses to comply?

“The problem that we have is that the courts are closed down,” Young said.

Eventually, the courts will reopen, and Young said anyone who refuses to abide by their custody agreement could then face significant make-up time. 

“This has been an area of constant debate and it's one that's keeping all of us busy while we're locked in our homes,” she added.