Austin’s Shelter-in-Place Order (Stay Home – Work Safe): How does it affect my possession schedule?

Posted on April 7, 2020 by Chris Kirker

Key Point: Stay Home – Work Safe generally does NOT impact possession schedules as long as the parents practice good social distancing. A more detailed analysis is provided below:

The spread of COVID-19 has forced many of us to adopt a new way of life. For the time being, many find themselves shouldering a host of new complexities including arranging remote-work, social distancing, and changes at the grocery store.

The City of Austin, Travis, and Williamson Counties issued simultaneous orders (Stay Home – Work Safe). Note: while the three orders do not share an identical form, they are substantively identical and for the sake of simplicity, this post will refer to the City of Austin provisions. The new orders run concurrent with, and are subject to, the recent Order by the Supreme Court of Texas, which clarified the effect of recent school district closures on possession schedules. For an in-depth analysis of that Order, please see our previous blog post.

While Stay Home – Work Safe affects many aspects of our lives, it does NOT affect your possession schedule. Generally, the joint orders prohibit all business, travel, and activities that are not “essential.” However, numerous provisions within the orders exempt parents’ travel to, meeting with, and exchanging their children according to the terms of their court-ordered possession schedules. For example, section 6(h)(ii) in the City of Austin order permits the travel of parents necessary to care for minors and dependents, and section 6(h)(v) permits travel necessary to comply with a court order, such as a possession schedule. 

Even though you are permitted to travel in order to maintain your possession schedule under the orders’ definition of “Essential Travel,” you are still to maintain good social distancing practices for those not in your household or dwelling. This means that you do NOT need to practice social distancing with your child. However, you must practice social distancing with the child’s other parent, unless you are part of the same household or live in the same dwelling.

You can find a copy of the City of Austin’s order here.

You can find a copy of Travis County’s order here.

You can find a copy of Williamson County’s order here.

If you would like to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on your possession schedule, contact Kirker | Davis LLP to schedule a remote meeting with a lawyer today.

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