BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Now that Pennsylvania is under a stay at home order, some parents in Blair County are concerned about seeing their children after changes to child custody procedures.
According to Blair County President Judge Elizabeth Doyle’s order from March 23, the changes in the state and the country due to the Coronavirus “may place obstacles on the exchanges of the custody of minor children in Blair County.”
As stated in her order, the changes would only take place if a shelter in place was in effect for the state or the country. We were told that this also includes the current stay at home order.
Duncansville resident Mark Hott shares his 11-year-old daughter Marlette with his ex-wife.
“Every single Wednesday I get her, and then every Thursday I get her, and then every other weekend,” he said.
On April 1st, Hott was just about to leave his house and go pick up his daughter for his allowed day. Before driving away, he got a text, saying that wasn’t happening.
“I had gotten a message from my ex-wife that told me ‘There’s an order out by Judge Doyle, and in the order, it states that I don’t have to give Marlette up and I’m gonna keep her’,” Hott said.
The order states in the cases of 50-50 physical custody, the child or children will stay with the person who is with them at the time the stay at home order takes effect.
The person with physical custody must make an effort to allow communication between the children and the other person involved, whether that’s phone calls, texts, or video chats.
“It’s not the same when you can’t be in the presence of somebody. You’re taking away hugs and kisses, things of that nature that can’t be replaced,” Hott said.
Now, Hott is working to figure out a way he can see his daughter in person and hopes something will change for other parents.
This is only for child custody arrangements in Blair County and will be in effect until the stay at home order is lifted.