March 2020 has been an unforgettable and historical month for all Americans. The COVID-19 Virus came into March like a Lamb and is leaving like a Lion. To combat the virus, we are all aware of “social distancing” and “essential activities.” The “Stay at Home” order issued by the Department of Public Health & Environment (DPHE) issued on March 25, 2020 brought the COVID virus to the forefront of every Coloradoan’s mind. The “Stay at Home” order made the outbreak more than an isolated ski country county (Eagle, Pitkin, Summit, Gunnison) problem, which was the DPHE’s stance on March 18, 2020, only one week before.
Just as the health department orders are quickly ramping up, there has been an uptick in legal questions and legal conflicts for domestic relations clients surrounding the effects of the “Stay at Home” order on parenting time.
Based upon District Court Judge’s decision immediately following the “Stay at Home” order on March 27, 2020, and corroborated by the Governor’s legal counsel Jacki Cooper Melmed’s official comments on National Public Radio on March 31, 2020, the effect of the “Stay at Home” on parenting time is as follows:
In addition, a District Judge from Jefferson County weighed into this “Stay at Home” order’s effect on parenting time a bit further:
Make-up parenting time for the parent whose parenting time was withheld as a result of the above exceptions will be highly encouraged and enforced.
In conclusion, as of March 31, 2020, but for very strict exceptions stated above, a client’s existing court orders regarding parenting time remain in effect and parents should continue to follow them. Parents should follow the DPHE’s “Stay at Home” order and practice social distancing, etc., but they should not withhold parenting time from the other parent at this time.