COVID-19 Custody Stipulation and Order

December 16, 2020

Vasiliki Gouliaberis, Esquire

Family Law Department

Eckell Sparks Law Firm

[email protected]

In order to preserve the best interest of a child, parents and their attorneys spend countless hours drafting, negotiating, and ultimately agreeing to adopt a custody order. While parents may seek to preserve such a painstakingly negotiated order, circumstances arise wherein updating said order is necessary. Co-parenting during an international pandemic would be one such circumstance.

As a parent in 2020, you may find that your child’s other parent has failed to appreciate the magnitude of the ongoing pandemic and is effectively risking the health and safety of your child. As such, you are entitled to seek modification of your present custody order or pursue an amicable Stipulation and Order.

A Stipulation is a signed agreement between parties that is submitted to the court for its approval and subsequent designation as an Order. Stipulations in Custody are often submitted to address a mutually desired change in custody. For example, you may draft and submit a stipulation seeking a change in your custodial schedule or in the location of your custody exchange. A judge then reviews this stipulation and issues a binding order, thereby effectuating your agreement. While such a stipulation has the full force and effect of a custody order it does not necessarily supersede a custody order and can, instead, act as an addendum to it.

If you believe that your child is at risk for exposure to COVID-19, implementing a Stipulation and Order, which addresses your COVID-19 related concerns, may be prudent. While such a stipulation can be tailored to your specific routine, habits, and boundaries, it can also be a document outlining the basic social-distancing guidelines we have all been tasked to undertake. A Stipulation and Order aimed to address COVID-19 related concerns can provide both parents mutual assurance that your child will remain healthy and safe during this pandemic. However, should the other parent refuse to implement such a stipulation, you may also petition the court to intervene through a Petition for Special Relief and/or Modification of your current custody order.

If you feel that your child is at risk for exposure to COVID-19, contact the Family Law department at Eckell Sparks to discuss these options.