Working in a high-stress job is difficult enough. Add in the fact that you are an essential worker during a crisis and your stress levels could be off the charts. It seems as though nothing is off the table when talking about the coronavirus pandemic impacting Knoxville and the rest of the country.
If you work as a doctor, nurse, paramedic, EMT, police officer, firefighter, or any other front line worker, you may be at risk of losing custody of your children. This could leave many parents having to choose between the oath they swore to protect and serve and their children.
It can happen and it has happened
It’s not out of the realm of possibility for a parent in a custody agreement to temporarily lose custody of their child due to working on the frontlines of the pandemic. In fact, it has already happened to one ER doctor in Florida.
And, if you think it can’t happen here in Tennessee; think again. One county has already issued administrative orders related to COVID-19 and child custody. In Davidson County, the state district court issued the following order: “The primary residential parent should take custody of the child within four hours of a shelter-in-place order and retain sole custody until the order is lifted.”
Concerns of essential worker parents
Some essential worker/parents have taken every precaution necessary to limit exposure to their children, whether they reside with their children full-time or not. This includes living away from home in a hotel, renting a camper so they may live separately on their own property, and even sending their family to live elsewhere while they continue to work on the front lines.
Aside from worrying that an essential worker parent might infect their child upon returning home from their shift, parents now must worry about possibly losing custody. The court order in Florida was temporary, shifting custody to the father of the child after both parents held shared custody. Even temporarily, do you want to risk losing your child? Yet at the same time, do you want to stop doing the lifesaving work you were called to do? For many, it’s a catch-22 decision.
Options for parents who are essential workers
Coming to the realization that you might temporarily lose custody of your children because you are an essential worker can be a devastating blow. What options do you have?
If your former spouse is talking about filing for temporary sole custody of your children, it is best to speak with them and try to resolve the problem before an order is issued by a court. Sadly, some parents may seek an order from the court without speaking about it first, taking you by surprise during an already difficult time.
Your best option is to speak with your family law attorney now. Don’t wait until your former spouse presents you with an emergency child custody order. We can get in front of the situation before it happens.
Are you worried you might lose custody of your children while working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic? It’s in your best interest to speak with a Knoxville family law attorney from LaFevor & Slaughter and allow us to ease your concerns. Call our office at (865) 637-6258 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation today.
Patrick Slaughter is an experienced Knoxville attorney passionate about helping families resolve legal issues including divorce, family law matters and immigration. Patrick graduated from Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law, summa cum laude and is a published author. Patrick is a member of the Knoxville Bar Association as well as the Tennessee Bar Association. Contact Patrick Slaughter at (865) 637-6258 or by filling out a case evaluation below.