Custody Exchanges are Essential Travel Under NC Stay at Home Order

In North Carolina, on March 27, 2020, Governor Cooper issued a Stay at Home Order which is effective March 30, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. This Stay at Home Order shall remain in effect for 30 days unless repealed, replaced or rescinded by another Executive Order.

A common question both clients and parenting coordination clients have asked is whether or not custody exchanges should occur during this Stay at Home Order. North Carolina’s Stay at Home Order permits the custodial exchange of children. Specifically, custody exchanges are considered essential travel and permissible under the North Carolina Stay at Home Order.

It is suggested that parties maintain social distancing with individuals other than the child (or members of the party’s household). Presumably, if the parties are only exchanging the child and responsibly practicing social distancing, any concerns about the spread of COVID-19 would be eliminated.

It makes sense that these orders would allow the exchange of children as it is not reasonable for one party to have custody of the child for a significant period of time without the child having contact with the other party. Custodial parties should be transparent with each other and keep the other reasonably informed about their activities with the child, about how they are practicing social distancing, and about the child’s interactions with others. 

Helen M. O’Shaughnessy - Wake Family Law Group
Author's Bio:

Helen O’Shaughnessy, a principal in Wake Family Law Group, is a board-certified family law specialist. Helen has been recognized by Business North Carolina magazine as one of the Legal Elite in North Carolina for family law (2007). She has also been selected by North Carolina Super Lawyers for inclusion on the 2009, 2011-2013 North Carolina Rising Stars list and as a North Carolina Super Lawyer from 2016-2020.


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.