With the MA "stay at home" order going into effect tomorrow, how does this affect a visitation schedule?Will children be able to continue traveling back and forth between houses, or do they remain at their primary residence, or do they just remain where they are when it goes into effect? I'm sure this is a very gray area.
You are correct, this is a very grey area right not. If the children are not sent for regularly scheduled parenting time, I do not think the Court would enter a finding of contempt, but the other parent would likely be granted make up parenting time when all of this is over. I hope this helps. Best of luck.
All I can say is that this is not a true "stay at home" order to the effect that you are not allowed to leave your home. The other main issue here is that the courts are closed to "non-emergency" hearings for at least another month, so even if the other parent doesn't allow visitation, there is no enforcement mechanism right now. As long as everyone is healthy, there is no government prohibition on visitation right now, but in terms of keeping everyone healthy, you may want to see if you can work out some form of alternative visitation right now via video conference, especially if no overnights are involved to minimize your children's possible exposure.
I am a Massachusetts attorney and answer questions based on Massachusetts law. The above answer is for educational purposes only and does not create an attorney client relationship or constitute legal advice.
There is nothing in the current advisory from the governor preventing children from engaging in their normal custody schedule. Many families are making adjustments voluntarily, however, based on their own altered work circumstances, their own and their children's health statuses, etc. For example, a parent who until today continued to go to his/her workplace physically may not want to expose his/her children to the potential for illness if the children were otherwise isolated at the other parents' home. In the absence of a compelling reason to decline parenting time, I believe that failure to engage in the parenting schedule may indeed be contemptuous. No shelter in place order has issued, and there are no travel restrictions in place.
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The current declaration of emergency by the governor sounds like visitation should not occur. The new stay in place order goes into effect at noon on 3/24/2020. It is my opinion that any visiting children should be returned to the custodial parent's home before noon on the 24th. After that, visitation should be greatly curtailed. If the visiting parent can go the other parent's home, stay 6 feet apart from parent and child, and spend time outdoors with the child then that can probably happen. So walking, biking, hiking can probably be done. The current order seems to prevent the child coming into close contact with a visiting parent. Nothing prevents telephone and video calls during this period.
If the stay at home order expires on April 7 as ordered by the governor then it shouldn't be that bad. The problem is if the governor extends the order month after month. Something will have to be worked out without exposing the child to a risk of the virus.
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Yes, all parenting schedules are to continue. If self-quarantining has been required because of symptoms or positive diagnosis,
Video time should be implemented so the children have regular contact with the quarantined parent. The Chief Justice posted a statement relative to parenting plans during this stay-at-home directive yesterday, March 24th and the statement may be found at the MassCourts website under emergency orders Probate and Family Courts. The governor has not prohibited leaving the house altogether, and as such, pare ties may transport their children for parenting schedules to continue.
Parenting orders are not stayed during this period of time. In other words parenting time MUST happen. Please see the open letter from Chief Justice Casey on this very subject https://www.mass.gov/news/open-letter-regarding-co-parenting-during-covid-19-from-chief-justice-john-d-casey
Answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship. I am only licensed in MA and the Federal District of Boston. All answers are based in MA law.
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