St. Louis County Missouri Custody Orders and COVID-19

In this uncertain time, rather than relying on rumor, you may want to take a look at Saint Louis County Department of Public Health order that will go in place in St. Louis County on Monday, for a 30-day period.  Here is the link:  St. Louis County Custody Order and COVID-19 Information

Some people have wondered whether this means they should not comply with court orders regarding transferring custody of their children between homes.   While this is new territory for all of us,  at this point, I interpret the provision that defines as an essential activity “necessary care for a dependent in the person’s legal custody, including acts essential for a parent with legal custody to transfer the physical custody of a child” as allowing the transportation of children for purposes that are required to comply with court orders.  I think the starting assumption then is that parents should continue to comply with their custody orders. 

Having said the above, the course of action is likely different if a parent, child or family member is ill or has exposure to the virus which would warrant quarantine.  The right thing to do in that situation may depend on your particular circumstances.  While the court may be available to resolve conflicts in this regard, the best course of action is to rely on your health care professionals.  

Now more than ever this is a time for co-parents to communicate.  Work to be on the same page with respect to activities your children are or not allowed to engage in, cleanliness and disinfecting protocols.  Cooperate to allow you each to juggle your work and home responsibilities.  Keep each other advised of all health issues in each of your homes and consider how items that travel between the homes should be sanitized.  Keep each other well advised of any possible exposure by anyone in either of your homes or of your child.  Should the need to quarantine a child, parent or other family members, avoid any impulse to assess blame, quarantine as required pursuant to public health and medical advice and guidelines, and make good use of video chats to keep everyone connected. 

We will each need to figure out how to navigate this unique territory according to our own circumstances.  If you use good common sense, follow public health and medical guidelines, and most importantly, keep the focus on taking care of one another and of your children, perhaps there will be a silver lining of strengthening your co-parent relationship. 

Sue Amato is a collaboratively trained family law attorney and she is available to discuss your Missouri divorce options. Sue can be reached at (314) 727-7122.