To Our Valued Clients:
On March 23, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-21 (COVID-19) which requires all non-essential workers as defined in the Order to Stay Home Stay Safe for the next three weeks at least, starting at midnight on March 23, 2020. The Order provides a list of exceptions to the rules including addressing compliance with custody orders.
Section 7(b)(4) states:
b. Individuals may also travel:
- To return to a home or place of residence from outside this state.
- To leave this state for a home or residence elsewhere.
- To travel between two residences in this state.
- As required by law enforcement or a court order, including the transportation of children pursuant to a custody agreement.
Further, on March 16, the Michigan State Supreme Court issued a Statement on Matters Concerning Children which provides in pertinent part:
“The Supreme Court wants to remind parents that all court orders for a child’s custody, parenting time and support are still in force. Only a new court order can change that. Parents should continue to follow their court orders.”
When reading the Governor’s Stay Home Stay Safe Executive Order together with the Michigan Supreme Court’s Statement on Matters Concerning Children, all parties should comply with all existing custody, parenting time and support orders unless and until they are changed. The Governor’s Stay Home Stay Safe Order does NOT prohibit parents from transporting their children to the other parties’ residences to comply with custody and parenting time orders and agreements.
We are advising our clients to comply with all custody, parenting time and support orders and to carry a copy of the relevant custody or parenting time order or agreement with them at all times while transporting children to show to any law enforcement officer who may inquire as to why that party is not at home.
Notwithstanding the Governor’s Order which permits the transportation of children between parents, we advise parents to exercise common sense. For example, if a parent reasonably believes that he or she or another member of the child’s households have been exposed to the Covid-19 Virus, then that parent should seriously consider foregoing his or her parenting time to ensure the health of the children by minimizing the risk of spread during these unprecedented times.
Finally, we encourage our clients who are living under the Stay Home Stay Safe Order, to be liberal and creative in their use of FaceTime and other electronic means to encourage and allow the children continued access with their other parent. Now more than ever, anything that parents can do to help ease their children’s anxiety and uncertainty should be their priority.
As always, if you have any questions, please call us to discuss your particular situation. While our offices may be temporarily closed, we are virtually open for business to serve your needs and answer your questions.
Nazli G. Sater
Family Law Practice Group, Chairperson
Richard A. Roane
Family Law Practice Group