If I Am a First Responder Helping Sick Patients, Could I Have My Children Taken Away?
The initial first few weeks of school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic created significant confusion for divorced parents trying to figure out how their parenting plans and time-sharing schedules worked in the face of a pandemic. While some states like Florida stayed quiet in terms of providing guidance, other states such as Texas issued orders directing parents to honor custody schedules as though there were no school closures. But divorced parents were still on their own, not only in figuring out whether and how they were complying with schedules, but also in determining what was and was not safe in terms of children traveling between homes, and in many cases dealing with the other parent taking drastic actions with respect to their children; sometimes out of fear of the virus, and sometimes in an effort to take advantage of the crisis and simply deny the other parent visitation.
However, that has since given rise to many parents who work on the front lines as first responders battling the virus as doctors, firefighters, and others being taken to court by ex-spouses who are concerned about their children being exposed to the virus as a result. For many parents, this is coming as a complete surprise, whereby, without notice, they are being presented with court orders granting the other parent sole temporary custody of the children because a judge was convinced in an emergency motion that the first responder parent posed a danger. As a result, these parents are then left scrambling to assemble the paperwork to try and reverse the order, wondering whether they are essentially being punished for trying to help battle the virus. Some also claim that these requests for custody are lacking in any specific details as to what the first responder parent is doing to place the child at risk and the other parent requesting the order is simply seeking to deny the first responder parent agreed-upon time with the child due to issues completely unrelated to the virus.
Emergency Motions in Florida
On the other side of the lines, you have parents who are not only concerned about the children being exposed to the virus, but who, in some cases, have underlying health conditions, and are therefore concerned about their own health. That includes here in Florida, where some parents have also successfully filed emergency motions asking judges to grant sole custody for the length of the state’s safer-at-home order, too concerned about taking a risk even if the first responder parent assures them that they are taking precautions and wearing personal protective equipment while at work. Still, in most of these cases, the judge will either schedule an online hearing so that both parents can attend and have enough time to prepare or, after an order has already been granted, once that first responders submit evidence that they are taking proper precautions to prevent exposing their children to the virus, judges will reverse them.
Still, a number of parents are concerned that Florida courts could eventually go in the drastic direction that some of the courts in California have gone and require that first responder parents produce a negative result from a coronavirus test every time they are scheduled to see their children, which is essentially impossible at this time, given how scarce these tests are.
If You Have Any Questions or Concerns, Contact Our Florida Family Law Attorneys
At Greater Orlando Family Law, our Orlando divorce attorneys are dedicated to your representation. In spite of COVID-19, we are still able to serve you via telephonic and virtual consultations. Contact us today to find out more.