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April 29, 2020
COVID-19 Update: Administrative Order 20-09 and Transparency Between Homes

In the times we are living, there’s a great deal of change – rules and laws are changing rapidly. It’s critical to stay up to date. There are a few new rules to consider, including those related to custodial orders. Let’s take a closer look at them.


Administrative Order 20-09

One of the new rules coming down the pipeline is called Administrative Order 20-09 out of Venture County, California. Judge Johnson from the Venture Superior Court created this ruling. This rule covers a few things, including what schedule you should be on right now.

With children not in school, it can seem not very clear to know what schedule you should follow. This is not a summer vacation, though. This ruling clarifies that you should be following the school year’s schedule for your custodial visitation. The ruling states it is not summer schedule until the school’s calendar says it is.

Please take a minute to print out the school’s schedule as it stands. Keep that for your files. Then, continue to follow your school schedule for custodial arrangements. Make sure to keep in place all three-day weekends and school in-service days as well. This keeps things straight and easy to manage. It’s also going to minimize the amount of confusion with the kids.


Exchange Locations

Another concern some parents are having is over exchange locations. For many, schools and extracurricular activity locations is where parents exchanged children. Now, all of that is closed down and suspended.

The new order recognizes this. As such, the exchange should now occur at the relinquishing parent’s home. Try to remain curbside if it is possible to do so. Then, the child is supposed to come to the receiving parent’s vehicle unescorted by the other parent. That’s not going to work in every situation. If the child cannot walk, or there’s an apartment building that doesn’t make this simple, other solutions are available.

The ideal scenario would be for the parent to walk the child to a certain point and feel comfortable enough to stand back and watch the child complete the walk to the other parent’s vehicle.

One key concern is restraining orders. The law reads, specifically, “If a restraining order is in effect, the pickup location shall be the parking lot of the police station nearest to the home of the relinquishing parent.”

Some restraining orders will have an exception permitting peaceful communications in them concerning the children. That’s not all orders, though. If that exception is present, you can communicate without violating the law.

Also notable, the order says that if you have an exchange location that is a public place, then the exchange should occur in the parking lot of that location. The child should go between the two vehicles unassisted whenever possible. This minimizes conflict and difficulties between parent.


Transparency Between Homes

One more thing that is important to note about this new order relates to transparency. The court says that, unless a restraining order prohibits contact, the parents “shall communicate regarding precautionary measures regarding COVID-19.” This will allow the child to have the same procedures at both parents’ homes. This is important because it helps the children to feel safe.

There’s no doubt this is a traumatic situation for all involved, and reducing the child’s anxiety is critical in all cases. Judge Johnson seems to have taken steps to help ensure there is minimal impact on children throughout this process, to the level that is possible.

Reach out to us if you have questions about this order or any other concerns involving your case.

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