Coronavirus is presenting a new set of challenges to parents who are frontline healthcare workers, and a recent court ruling in Miami has caused one mom in particular to lose custody of her four-year-old daughter due to her job as an emergency room doctor.
Mom Loses Custody During Coronavirus Pandemic
The doctor, Theresa Greene, previously shared custody with her ex husband, Eric Greene, for two years.
“I think it’s not fair, it’s cruel to ask me to choose between my child and the oath I took as a physician,” Greene told CNN. “I won’t abandon my team at work or the patients who will increasingly look to me to save their lives in the coming weeks, but it’s torture.”
The judge responsible for the ruling, Judge Bernard Shapiro of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, states that it is in the child’s best interests to stay with the father to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus:
“The Court finds in order to insure and protect the best interests and health of the minor child, this Order must be entered on a temporary basis,” the ruling states.
How Will Custody During Coronavirus Affect Other Workers?
While some frontline healthcare workers like Greene have to face new challenges brought on by child custody issues, she states that employees in other fields aren’t facing the same fate:
“My brother works as an engineer, and he’s building the tent hospitals up in New York. He gets to come home to his two kids. No one is questioning that decision,” Greene told CNN.
Greene says that she has been wearing full PPE (personal protective equipment) while treating her patients, and states that healthcare workers who take the proper precautions are not at risk of spreading the virus.
“If I was married I’d be given the opportunity to go home to my child, no one could tell me I shouldn’t do that,” Greene says.
Custody Issues During COVID-19
COVID-19 has led to increased issues related to child custody, including refusal of visitation orders, changes to custody orders, and temporary rulings. As new stay-at-home orders and lockdown procedures are set in place, many parents fear that their custody agreements may be affected.
Child custody is determined by a number of factors – the child’s best interest being the most paramount. That being said, child custody orders don’t take the events that occur during a global pandemic into account.
Parents and family law professionals alike are entering uncharted territory when it comes to child custody and visitation agreements.
Greene is appealing the order and will be eligible for future make-up time-sharing as well as video calls every day, but the question remains: when will she be able to see her daughter again?
As a mom, do you agree with a custody agreement being modified to protect a child from exposure to coronavirus? What would you do if you lost custody of your child because of your job?
If you’re a mom going through custody issues or trying to co-parent during these difficult times, there are resources you can seek. Although family courts are closed, check your court’s local website or consult with a family lawyer to find out what your options are. For more information on COVID-19 and divorce, click here.
Candice Daniel says
My heart sinks for Dr. Greene right now. This ‘judge’ is shameful for his custody decision for her 4 year old daughter. Dr. Greene’s daughter needs her more than ever and Dr. Greene needs her daughter more than ever as well. This is a time where love and nurturing our children and women in the same predicament as Dr. Greene should never face this distaste from our court system. Dr. Greene, I honor and cherish what you do for your community and being a GREAT mom to share this with us.
Judges have incredibly wide latitude with regard to determining “best interests of the child,” and this decision seems very reasonable. It’s explicitly a temporary order, due to the unusual risk of exposure from her working in the ER every day, and daily electronic contact is provided for. Legally speaking, this is a perfectly reasonable decision by the Judge, and she has almost zero chance of prevailing on appeal.
Pandemics suck; life is not fair. (It’s much more unfair to those who catch and die from the disease, of course.) Contact is not being cut off, only *in person exposure*, and only while the pandemic is ongoing.
Everyone agrees that it is wonderful to have doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers and staff taking care of the sick and dying. And many of them are already dealing with the very harsh reality that isolation from their families is necessary right now. What EVERYONE needs right now is to reduce the chance of spreading the virus any more than is absolutely required.
No, the Judge is NOT in the least bit shameful for his temporary order regarding their daughter’s physical custody arrangements during the pandemic. The Judge must instead be commended for not letting emotion or pressure put this child at unnecessary risk.
DivorcedMoms Staff says
I agree, the judge did the only reasonable thing. He did what the mother herself should have done. He got her daughter temporarily in a safe environment.
I agree and if the mom was thinking clearly about the safety of her daughter she could’ve asked her ex (unless he was abusive, of course) to take care of “their” daughter for however long is needed. Why did it have to go to court in the first place? Also, if she was working non-stop, like so many wonderful doctors/nurses, how much time would she have been able to give to her daughter anyway? She didn’t “lose” her daughter to anyone and she’ll be able to go right back to how it was before the pandemic.
Brandon Miller says
But I still think that it is the duty of the parents to protect their child from any danger and that, in connection with the specifics of their work, they need to give the child to another close person who can take good care of the child. In this case, you can communicate via video and thus maintain a relationship. So the judge is the principle of law in this. I understand that it is painful and difficult. That it’s difficult, but for now it’s the right way out of the situation that has developed in our world. Of course, you can condemn, but you can not condemn such a decision.
This is a terrible time in the world. Unfortunately, medical workers suffer, which I think is not fair. Thank you!