Divorce, Custody Agreements, and Social Distancing Provisions

Posted by Joseph Lento | Jul 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

COVID-19 and all its accompanying precautions have wreaked havoc on all of our lives, but for some co-parents, it could even mean restrictions placed on them by their exes. Is that even legal? Let's dive in.

Social Distancing Contracts

Buzzfeed recently reported on a Brooklyn mother whose ex-husband asked a court to require her to obey all New York state social distancing rules, “not attend any nonessential gatherings, and not have any visitors while their children are with her.”

The mother commented that she felt she was living in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, in which women and their rights are subjugated in a patriarchal society. She expressed concern to Buzzfeed that her allegedly emotionally abusive husband was simply using COVID-19 pandemic precautions to attempt to control her and her activities under the guise of concern for the health and welfare of their children.

Upon investigation of this woman's claims, Buzzfeed uncovered that the concept of “social distancing contracts” between divorced couples is far from uncommon in the current family law landscape; one lawyer quoted in the article says he has heard of “hundreds” of such agreements, which may limit parents from hiring child care or cleaning services or even date someone new.

Pandemic Parenting Plans

While some co-parents may be abusing the idea of social distancing contracts solely to stir up fights with their ex, adjusted custody agreements, or pandemic parenting plans during this unprecedented time may be advisable in specific situations.

If one or both parents are essential workers, for example, that could be a valid reason for a co-parent to request a change in custody provisions. Some adjustments may include changing custody schedules to decrease potential exposure – perhaps week to week to cut down on the shuffling between homes.

That said, courts are not likely to look kindly on parents attempting to use the pandemic as an excuse to keep the other parent from seeing their children. Ohio’s stay-at-home order issued in March explicitly still permitted “[t]ravel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody order.”

If you are facing or considering a potential change in custody because of pandemic precautions, contact the Lento Law Firm online or call (888) 535-3686 today to discuss your options.

About the Author

Joseph Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience advocating for his Family Law clients in courtrooms in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, as well as New Jersey. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact a Family Law Attorney Today!


Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in Pennsylvania. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.