During these unprecedented times during the Covid-19 outbreak, it seems like everything is uncertain and up in the air. On Friday, March 20, 2020, Governor Pritzker enacted Executive Order In Response to COVID-19 (COVID-19 Executive Order No. 10), otherwise known as the “Shelter In Place” order. The order provides that all residents of the State of Illinois must stay home, practice social distancing and that all “non-essential businesses” must cease operations (with certain exceptions). This order left many parents with questions, such as “Do I still have to hand over my children to the other parent?” Before Governor Pritzker clarified his initial shelter in place order, the answer was that we simply didn’t know. However, as the governor has expanded his order, we have more clarity. Pursuant to Section 14(e) of the order, it provides:
Essential Travel. For the purposes of this Executive Order, Essential Travel includes travel for any of the following purposes. Individuals engaged in any Essential Travel must comply with all Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section:
…(e) Travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement. (Emphasis added)
So in short, the answer is yes, you must continue to comply with your parenting agreement. COVID-19 is not an excuse to deny the other parent his or her court-ordered parenting time. However, this would obviously not apply if the child(ren) has been somewhat exposed to the virus and is in self-isolation or is experiencing symptoms of the virus. If this is the case, the parent in possession of the child in self-isolation should clearly communicate to the other parent that the child is exhibiting symptoms of the virus. Remember that the most important thing at this time is the child’s best interests. During this time, communication with the other parent is key, and you should both utilize your best judgment.
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