Orange and Osceola County Temporary Family Administrative Order During COVID-19

By: Cynthia Winter, Esq.

The Governor of Florida has recently announced that all Florida schools will be closed until at least April 15th, and that students will begin attending virtual school on Monday, March 30th.

The Administrative Judge for Orange County and Osceola County has signed a temporary order today (March 24th) regarding all Orange and Osceola County family law cases. The basics of the Administrative Order are as follows:

a.  All parents must continue to follow any current Final Judgments, orders or settlement agreements which have been previously entered in their case.

b. Unless otherwise prohibited by an existing court order, each parent is prohibited from unreasonably restricting access of the child(ren) to the other parent.

c. Parents should follow the regular (non-holiday) time-sharing schedule set forth in their Parenting Plan until the last day of school, which unless otherwise stated in the Parenting Plan will be the date announced by the School District or Official governing the school. If a child’s school has ended classes for the 2019-2020 school year, the summer time-sharing schedule shall begin immediately.

d. Exchanges that were to take place at a school or daycare that is not currently open should be arranged between the parents in writing by email, text, or parenting app. In the event the parents cannot agree on an alternate arrangement, the exchanges shall take place at the police station or sheriff’s office that is located closest to the school or daycare.

e. In the event the Governor of Florida issues an order that requires parties to “shelter in place,” the parties are to discuss where the child(ren) are in the best position to meet the requirements of their school, remain with siblings if possible, and be safe. If the parties cannot agree, the parent with the majority of timesharing (183 overnights or more) shall keep the child(ren) until the “shelter in place” order is lifted, or a Court Order is entered. The Court may consider ordering make-up time-sharing or other measures once Emergency Orders and Procedures are lifted and the Courts return to normal operations. (Please see below for an update.)

f. Video-conferencing and phone contact shall be honored as set forth in the parties’ Parenting Plan and should be increased to “regular and consistent contact” to alleviate fears and concerns the child(ren) may be experiencing during this time. Unless previously ordered, video and phone contact should not be monitored or interrupted by the co-parent or any other third party, unless there are specific Court Orders in place as to those issues.

Based upon the Administrative Order, as a general matter parents should be following their regular time-sharing schedules, until the last day of school (whether in-person or virtual), at which time they should begin following their summer time-sharing schedules.

The Administrative Order is currently in place for Orange County and Osceola County and is subject to being changed as the evolving and fluid nature of the facts and circumstance may require.

You can read the entire order put in place here: Emergency Temporary Standing Order Re Parenting in Family Law Cases.

We here at Rebecca L. Palmer Law Group KNOW that this is a tough time…for all of us. But should you have ANY questions regarding family law, especially at this time, please know that, as always, we’re #HereForYou.

Update below!

The wording in 2.e. has changed to:

e.  In the event that the Governor of Florida and/or any other government official issues an order that requires parties or a party to restrict movements as a mass or partial quarantine or suppression strategy to mitigate or slow the spread of COVID-19 (often referred to as “shelter in place” or “stay at home” orders), and including, but not limited to, individual orders to self-quarantine (hereinafter collectively referred to as “any governmental order”) the parties are to discuss their family’s best methods to meet the requirements of the child(ren)’s school, remain with siblings if possible, and be safe. If regular time sharing and exchanges can occur and be consistent with any governmentalorders, then regular time sharing shall continue as Ordered by the Court and, if necessary, as further described above. If there is any governmental order issued that does not allow a parent or parents to move about the community freely, the parent with the majority of timesharing (183 overnights) shall keep the child(ren) until that governmental order is lifted, or a Court Order is entered. The Court will have jurisdiction to consider all appropriate remedial measures, including make-up timesharing, once the Court’s Emergency Orders and Procedures are lifted and the Courts return to normal operations. The Parties should assume that any parent losing time because of measures taken for COVID-19 will receive make up timesharing, and that the Courts will sanction behavior that it deems unreasonable. Upon the lifting of any governmental order, the parties are to resume their regularly scheduled timesharing. This shall continue until the parties are able to secure hearing time with the Court, but does not bar any party from filing a Motion with the Court in the interim. The parties are encouraged strongly to work cooperatively with each other, and if appropriate, voluntarily agree to a make-up timesharing schedule as a result of any timesharing lost due to COVID-19.