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Does Ohio’s stay at home order affect parenting time and visitation orders?

The short answer: No. Ohio parents are permitted to pick up and drop off their children for parenting time or visitation while the stay-at-home order is in effect.

Although Ohio’s Stay at Home Order (SAHO) restricts non-essential travel, the order has specific definitions about what constitutes essential travel for purposes of the SAHO.

Essential Travel includes travel . . . required by . . . court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement.

Director’s Stay at Home Order, Paragraph 14(e), March 22, 2020 (emphasis added)

This means that divorced or separated parents in Ohio are permitted to travel to exchange their children for parenting time and visitation under their normal Court Order or Shared Parenting Plan.

The Best Solution: Work it Out

When it comes to the best interests of the children, and concerns for health and safety, the best solution for any family is for the parents to talk and work out an agreement or solution that fits the circumstances for that family.

In working out an agreement, the parents need to focus on the best interests of the child or children. Common sense, rationality, and safety should play a part in the discussions.

Some factors that parents should consider in adjusting their parenting time or visitation time during the crisis are:

  1. Whether either parent is under self-quarantine or doctor-recommended quarantine (exhibiting any symptoms of illness or has been exposed to the Coronavirus);
  2. Whether the children or parents are in high-risk categories for complications from the Coronavirus;
  3. If there are other family members living with either parent that are elderly or high risk;
  4. Whether the travel between parents would expose the children to increased risk (e.g. children will have to fly and be in airports to see the other parent);
  5. Whether either parent’s occupation creates an increased risk of exposure for the children (e.g. one parent is an ER physician or healthcare worker);
  6. Make-up Time – If the parents agree that parenting time or visitation is not appropriate right now due to the circumstances of the families, there should be a specific commitment to providing “make-up” time with the parent who is missing visitation;
  7. Any other circumstance that affects the health and safety of the parents and children involved.

[For more suggestions, check out our post:
7 Guidelines for Divorced & Separated Parents Sharing Custody During the COVID-19 Outbreak]

If you do reach an agreement with the other parent, make sure that you communicate the agreement to each other in writing, so that the everyone is on the same page and the agreement is memorialized for future reference.

If you cannot work out an agreement with the other parent and one parent is denying the other parent their visitation or parenting time with the child, it is time to consult a lawyer about whether court intervention is appropriate.


Download the PDF of the Stay at Home Order here. More information on the Stay at Home Order at the Governor’s site here: Governor.ohio.gov.

Disclaimer: This post is general information and is not legal advice for you or anyone else. Consult a lawyer for specific legal advice regarding your case or situation.


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Updated March 25, 2020

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