The loosening of COVID travel restrictions means families can finally go on vacations that were postponed in 2020, but what happens when divorced parents have different comfort levels when it comes to traveling during a pandemic? Family Law attorney Carolyn Grimes provides insights on how to handle these custody disputes.

How Have Restrictions Changed from 2020 to 2021?

Since the start of the COVID pandemic, restrictions prohibiting leisure travel were put in place to prevent spreading COVID across state and country lines. These travel restrictions have caused many parents who live far from the child and typically have just holiday or vacation visitation to lose time with their children. 

As more vaccines are administered, restrictions are being lifted. U.S. residents are allowed to travel to most states within the country without restrictions and more than 70 countries, including Brazil, Haiti, Ireland and Egypt, are fully open to U.S. travelers and tourists.

So If Things Are Opening Up, Are Divorced Families Still Affected?

Yes, the restrictions are slowly lifting, however, there are still travel requirements (quarantining, COVID testing, etc.) for some states that do not make it simple for children to travel. In accordance with COVID guidelines and custody agreements, safety for all children is the main priority during these tough times. That being said, if one parent does not feel comfortable with their child traveling from Virginia to California but the other parent wants to see their child, this could cause issues. 

When it comes to custodial visits during COVID, Grimes says, “Unless you can prove the other parent takes your child to other places, not socially distanced or has not abided by COVID restrictions, a parent still has the right to have their child visit by court order. A parent can do what they want with the child during their custodial time unless the child is in danger.” 

Though it is their legal right to see their child, Grimes points out that people still need to have what is best for the child in mind. “Parents should probably be reasonable and realize if there is a mandatory quarantine you don’t want your child to miss school for six weeks for a one-week vacation,” says Grimes. She encourages families having these issues to consider adding on time to vacations in the future to make up for the time missed in 2020 and 2021. 

For more information on how COVID restrictions affect child custody, please contact Carolyn Grimes.

About the Author

This is a profile picture of family law attorney Carolyn M. Grimes.

Carolyn M. Grimes

Carolyn Grimes is a partner at Friedman, Grimes, Meinken & Leischner PLLC, practicing in all areas of family law including divorce, spousal support, child custody, child support, equitable distribution, retirement issues, and prenuptial agreements, among other areas.

Consistently named a ‘Best Lawyer’ (from 2014-2023), Ms. Grimes has also been honored as an AV Preeminent (2001-2022) and Gold Client Champion (2019-2021) by Martindale-Hubbell. In addition, she’s been named a Top Lawyer by Northern Virginia Magazine Magazine (2011, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021), a Top Attorney by Arlington Magazine (2019-2021), and a Top Attorney by Washingtonian Magazine (2015) as well as many other top attorney designations.

Whether you are facing a family law, protective order, estate planning, bankruptcy and/or criminal-law-related issue, Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner PLLC is here for you during challenging times.