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Child Custody and Visitation During Coronavirus Lockdown

Child video chatting over a laptop with her father

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a stay-at-home order directing residents to stay in their homes in order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Neighboring New York has more coronavirus cases than any other state (and any country outside the United States!), making the situation for east coast residents all the more urgent and dangerous. If you have a shared custody or visitation arrangement with a co-parent, how does the stay-at-home order affect you? Read on for a discussion of child custody and visitation during the coronavirus pandemic, and reach out to an experienced New Jersey child custody attorney for help with a New Jersey family law matter.

Exceptions in the Order

Most states that have stay-at-home orders have exceptions for compliance with pre-existing legal obligations, such as child custody and visitation, and many have other exemptions for limited interactions with certain people. New Jersey’s stay-at-home order provides an explicit exception allowing travel for visiting family. Under that exception, parents should be permitted to travel to pick up or drop off shared children in compliance with child custody orders and arrangements. For the most part, custody and visitation arrangements should continue as ordered, where possible.

Out-of-State or Far-Away Co-Parents

New Jersey, the federal government, and global health officials all caution against air travel, and in many places, air travel is all but impossible. Some states are refusing to accept visitors from other states. If your child usually flies to their other parent during custody exchanges, this approach will likely have to be modified. If you can, travel by car. If they are too far away to drive, or driving is not possible because of the state’s quarantine orders, then you and your co-parent will need to agree to a modification of the schedule.

Parents could, for example, have an arrangement where the parent who is missing their visitation now gets to make up for it with extra custody time after the quarantine orders are lifted. You can also utilize Facetime, Zoom, and other telephone or video chat technologies to keep parents in touch with their distant children. If you and your co-parent cannot agree on an alternative arrangement, call your family law attorney to discuss your options.


If you, your co-parent, or your child has contracted the coronavirus, your family should follow all medical guidance in responding to the illness. Seek medical attention, quarantine the ill person, and follow quarantine guidance for anyone who has been exposed to them. If your co-parent shows symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus, for example, you could likely refuse to allow them visitation if it would put your child’s health at risk. A New Jersey child custody lawyer can help you understand your rights and obligations to avoid any problems with the court down the line.

Get Help From a New Jersey Child Custody Lawyer

If you’re in need of dedicated, compassionate, and knowledgeable legal help with child support, alimony, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.

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