MAINE, USA — As the coronavirus spreads in Maine, everything is changing and some things don't seem as clear as they used to be. A lot of viewers have reached out to NEWS CENTER Maine and asked what they should do regarding their children and split custody orders.
According to Gov. Janet Mills' stay-at-home order, residents can only leave their homes for essential activities. One of those essential activities is travel required per court order.
"Travel required by a law enforcement officer or court order," the order says.
Heather Whiting practices Family Law with MittelAsen at Portland. She's been asked by clients if they still have to obey their current custody agreements.
“Yes they do," Whiting said. “Any travel under court order is deemed essential and we are advising all of our clients that they need to follow their current parenting plan.”
Whiting added that parents splitting custody can reach a written agreement during the stay-at-home order that can work for them and for the safety of their children.
“Families really have to work together," Whiting added. “I can’t express how important it is for families to be flexible, cooperative, and work together.”
If parents decide to take matters in their own hands and keep children at their homes and don't adhere to their court order they could face the consequences.
“They are definitely at risk of being in contempt of their court order," Whitting said.
Instead of facing those consequences Kaylee Folster, an attorney with Vafiades, Brountas & Kominsky in Bangor, said to make an agreement.
"Make sure that agreement is in writing, it doesn't need to be a formal contract. Text message, email, each side acknowledging that agreement is going on," Folster said.
Both lawyers want to remind clients that they are still working, and any custody questions or legal problems should be directed to them.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus
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