Custody Issues and Covid-19

At least one local court has issued a policy statement in light of Covid-19 regulations:

Policy of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, Family Division, regarding
custody exchanges and COVID-19 regulations.

Effective March 23, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. Governor Wolf has issued a ‘Stay at Home’ Orders to
Chester County and 6 other counties* to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Guidelines issued with the Governor’s Order provide that allowable activities and essential travel include
“travel to care for … minors, dependents … ”; and “travel required by law enforcement or court order.
“[emphasis added]. In addition, the Governor’s Office of General Counsel has confirmed to the
President Judges of Pennsylvania’s Judicial Districts that the Governor’s order does not prohibit
necessary travel to effectuate existing custody orders.

Accordingly, it is the policy of the Chester County Family Court that existing custody orders which
provide for custodial exchanges of children are to be complied with, absent true exigent or emergency

If the exchange is to occur in a public place that may create an elevated risk, the parties should consider
exchanging at their respective residences (curbside, if necessary) or such other location as they may

If a party believes emergency circumstances exist which would justify temporary suspension of custodial
exchanges, he/ she must prepare an Emergency Petition for Temporary Modification of the custody
order, stating precisely the alleged exigent circumstances. It must also state the currently-used
telephone number and email address of both the moving party/counsel and the opposing party/counsel.
The petition should be sent to Family Court Administration via email to or by fax
to 610-344-5974. It will be reviewed by a judge. Once reviewed, if approved for filing, the moving party
must file the original with the Prothonotary and serve it upon opposing counsel/litigant. A telephone
conference between counsel (or self-represented parties) and a judge will be held when service has
been verified. If necessary after conference, a hearing on the record may be conducted via telephone .
At the present time, judicial reviews and conferences will only occur between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and
12:00 noon, Monday through Friday. Telephone hearings will be scheduled at the convenience of the
Emergency Family Judge assigned for a given day.

These policies are subject to change as the medical and regulatory situation evolves. Counsel and parties
are encouraged to use mediation as an alternative to emergency filings. These are difficult times for all,
and cooperation between parents will serve the best interests of their children.