In response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Governor Little has entered Idaho’s Order to Self Isolate on March 25, 2020. I am receiving a high volume of calls regarding parents denying visitation due to COVID-19 and many parents are concerned that their visitation will be cut off. The following is intended to provide you with a clear picture of the new order and its impact on your custody and visitation orders. As always, I am available to address any questions you may have.
The ‘stay-home’ order that is now in force in Idaho explicitly authorizes ‘essential’ travel. It can be reasonably understood that travel for custody exchanges is ‘essential’ under the meaning of this order. That is to say, there is no reason that you cannot travel with the children in Idaho for purposes of visitation. Enclosed for your reference is a copy of Governor Brad Little’s Executive Proclamation and Order, which was issued on March 25, 2020. I refer you specifically to paragraph 8 (h) (v), which states that essential travel includes “travel required by court order.” Thus, following through with Visitation Orders is considered essential travel.
Of course, parents should be primarily concerned for the welfare and best interests of the children. This is the standard and primary focus.
In summary, custody exchanges must continue unless there is an explicit and demonstrable reason why such travel and visits would expose the child(ren) to harm or significant risk of infection (e.g., a member of the other household has tested positive or has been in contact with, or cannot safely avoid contact with others who are positive). Simply using COVID-19 as a blanket excuse to avoid providing visitation is not acceptable and does not fall within the governors order and may subject the non-complaint parent to contempt.
Timing-How Long Will the Order Last?
The Order was signed into law at 1:30 p.m. on March 25, 2020, and will continue to be in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 15, 2020, or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Director, subject to the limited exceptions and under the terms and conditions more particularly set forth below.