As a nurse amid COVID-19, how can I protect my parental rights?
I am only licensed in Michigan, so my answer may vary from the particular state that you reside in.
Until recently, being a nurse would not have much of an effect on custody and did not put a parent at risk for losing custody. The only issue with such a career, would have been the unconventional work hours nurses can have. However, the COVID-19 situation has certainly changed that since some parents will use whatever they can to their advantage in a custody battle. They also may be overly concerned about the safety of their children.
Making matters worse is a recent national news story, where judge in Florida stripped an emergency room doctor of her parenting time due to concerns over COVID-19, which undoubtedly emboldened some parents to seek to do the same.
The best way to protect yourself and reduce the chance that a judge can do this is with strong evidence to show that your career has not created a danger for your children. Displaying evidence that you are not infected is necessary. It is hard for the court to say you are a danger if you do not have the virus.
Beyond that, it also is helpful to show the court what the realistic risks of contracting the virus are. Obviously, working as a nurse the risks would be higher than a parent that is working from home and not leaving their house, but that does not mean you have a 100 percent chance of contracting COVID-19.
A nurse can show that they are not at risk by noting what kind of safety precautions they use at work, how often they are tested at work, the extent of their possible exposure to COVID-19 at work, and any other measures that are taken to reduce risk. Showing the court that you are more aware than the average parent about exposure and protection will help show them that you are cognizant of the risks and are working to minimize them.
Another issue results from the misinformation and constantly evolving facts about the virus. Nurses and other medical professionals also come into contact with all sorts of illnesses by virtue of their job. Only recently, with the COVID-19 pandemic, has one’s profession become an excuse for parties to try and restrict their parenting time.
Working in the medical field, having access to more accurate information can be beneficial. If your hospital provides updates and information regularly to its employees, you can use that information to your advantage. Most judges and attorneys do not have backgrounds in the medical field and need to be educated as well from solid sources that can be trusted, such as hospitals and medical professionals. That information can allow the court to make a more informed decision regarding parenting time.