Implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on Child Custody and Visitation Orders


Our office has received numerous questions regarding the implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on child custody and visitation orders.  Thus far I have essentially refrained from giving legal advice for two primary reasons.  First, I did not wish to advise someone to violate a Court order. Second, I did not want to advise someone to follow a Court order that might inadvertently expose a child or family member to this virus.  However, on April 6th, Governor McMaster issued an order that provides some clarification.   


Executive Order No. 2020-21, signed on April 6, 2020, is sometimes called a “Stay at Home Order” or a “Shelter in Place Order.”  These types of orders direct people to stay home with certain exceptions.  With regard to child custody and visitation orders, the Executive Order specifically allows for visitation exchanges:

Section I. E.7. on page 8, designated the following as an essential activity:

Travelling as required by law, to include attending any court proceedings and transporting children as required by court order or custody agreement. 


While the Executive Order helps clarify visitation exchanges, some people still feel that visitation exchanges pose an unreasonable risk to themselves or to their children.  As an attorney, I tend to weigh any contempt of Court implications when I advise my clients.  

A violation of a Court order must be “willful” (or without good reason) to qualify as contempt of Court.  It is not entirely clear if someone may be found in contempt for visitation violations, if they have legitimate health and safety concerns about Covid-19.  For example, if the parent or the child is considered an “at risk”  individual because of  underlying health conditions or age, he or she may have a valid reason.  However, because of the Executive Order, simply being concerned about the transmission of the coronavirus does not appear to be a valid excuse for violating an order. 

It is important to remember that each case is unique, and this blog does not constitute legal advice.  Please be sure to consult with an attorney for any individual questions or concerns you might have.

If you have any questions about child custody, visitation, or any Family Law matter, we urge you to contact us.  In order to be flexible and convenient, we have open office hours and easy appointment scheduling. Contact us today and schedule your confidential consultation.

Our law office serves people across the Upstate, South Carolina, including: Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Pickens, Laurens, and Oconee counties.

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