As COVID-19 began to take hold in the United States, Washington and other states took action to ensure that child possession schedules remained in effect and were followed according to court orders. These actions were effective, and as COVID-19 continues to persist in society, parents have adapted to working within court-ordered possession schedules. However, new issues have surfaced regarding the safety and protection of children subject to the court-ordered possession schedules.

With our communities relying on front-line workers, such as doctors and nurses, first responders, and other essential workers to keep an essence of the status quo, their jobs require them to risk exposure to COVID-19. With proper procedure and protection, these workers continue to battle whatever our communities are facing. However, do these workers bring that risk home that will endanger their children’s health in such a situation?

In this case, which has quickly gone viral and grabbed national headlines, Dr. Theresa Greene works as an ER physician at a Miami-area hospital. Dr. Greene exercised extreme caution, wore all required protective gear, and even went beyond to protect her 4-year old daughter that she shares with her ex-husband. Despite taking all the necessary precautions, the judge ruled that the daughter temporarily lived exclusively with the father.
In his ruling, the judge stated, “The Court does not enter this Order lightly, but given the pandemic in Florida and the recent increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases, the Court finds to insulate and protect the best interests and health of the minor child, this Order must be entered on a temporary basis.” With no end currently in sight regarding COVID-19, how long is “a temporary basis?” Additionally, the father’s lawyer added that the ruling stated Dr. Greene will be provided make-up time for the lost time due to the pandemic and raises more questions of how the Court might accomplish this.

Although the Appellate Court has granted a Motion to Stay on this case, which allows Dr. Theresa Greene and her ex-husband to revert to the old schedule, the issue of whether temporarily ordering the daughter to stay with the husband during this pandemic exclusively is in the best interest and health of the child is still to be decided along with potential answers to all these other questions.

Chad Foster is a trusted Washington lawyer serving Snohomish and King counties with an office in Bothell. Contact us today to discuss your legal issue.

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