Restrict Parenting Time During COVID

Family Law Team Helps Client with Immunocompromised Child Find Peace of Mind

Imagine this scenario: Your child is severely immunocompromised and could die if they catch COVID-19. Your ex-partner – your child’s other parent – refuses to implement minimal safeguards to prevent a tragedy. And, so far, the courts have not taken seriously your cries for help. Sounds like a nightmare, right? That was not a scenario for our client; it was real life.

In the following case study, you’ll read how Robinson & Henry’s Family Law Team successfully helped this client convince the court to restrict their ex-partner’s parenting time for the child’s safety.

Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Each matter is different and must be judged on its own merits. Facts are those of an actual Robinson & Henry family law case. The client’s name was changed to protect their privacy.

Introduction:
A Mother’s Desperate Fight for Her Daughter

Robinson & Henry client Tamara needed help to convince her ex-partner and the court to take steps to minimize her child’s exposure to COVID-19.

Tamara’s child was born with medical conditions that left her severely immunocompromised. Doctors can treat the child’s conditions, but they cannot cure them at this time. That means Tamara and anyone else who has close contact with the child must take safety measures to reduce her chances of contracting COVID-19 and other illnesses.

Despite the gravity of the situation, the child’s father refused to take even minimal precautions to reduce the likelihood his daughter would catch COVID.

“[My child] may not live another year if I do not fight for her life and safety and advocate on her behalf,” Tamara said.

With no success on her own, Tamara needed the help of a compassionate and resolute attorney.

Robinson & Henry Family law attorney Mark C. Smith received Tamara’s case. At our firm, the attorneys work on teams. So Robinson & Henry Highlands Ranch Lead Family Law Attorney Marlana Caruso would oversee the case, and Mark would work directly with the client.

The Challenges:
Overcome an Unmoved Court & Father 

The Court

“Our courts have notoriously ignored parents’ reservations on parenting time and access to activities due to the existence of COVID,” Marlana said. “[The courts] have taken ‘an order is an order’ type of stance.”

And for Mark, the principal COVID issue among his family law cases has been remote learning.

“The impact of COVID is part of every case that involves children because of the requirement to ensure the safety of the children and how parents are to respond to such challenges as when schools are closed,” Mark reflected.

But the virus itself – or in this instance, trying to prevent a child from catching it – has never been the central issue for Mark, until Tamara’s case. The court’s position on court-ordered parenting time during the COVID-19 pandemic would be Mark’s greatest hurdle.

The Father

In addition to convincing the court, Mark also faced an opposing party who staunchly denounced COVID safety measures widely recommended by the medical community to protect people like the child in this case.

“I was shocked by the father’s ambivalence about the child’s severe health impairments and his refusal to take even minimal precautions to ensure the safety of the child,” Mark said.

Finally, someone acknowledged Tamara’s concerns. She said Mark’s counsel and validation gave her the confidence she needed to continue to fight for her daughter’s safety.

“This eased my mind greatly, and I felt I could really open up to and trust [Mark] with my daughter’s life,” Tamara said. “The doctors and family are not just partnering to save and preserve my daughter’s life; her attorney is, too. Mark is my daughter’s advocate.”

The Solution:
Request Court to Restrict Parenting Time

Some family law cases have multiple legal options to reach a resolution. This one did not.

Tamara and the child’s father were already going through the process to have the court assign parental responsibilities. But that would take months.

“The only other option was to wait until final orders,” Mark said of the court designating parental responsibilities. “The opposing party was not going to allow us that luxury.”

The only option to protect the child was to request a temporary orders hearing. Temporary orders are issued by a judge on pending cases, like Tamara’s. The orders are enforceable until the court renders its final orders.

Preparing to Go to Court

To get ready for court, Mark investigated the child’s significant health challenges. He scoured records provided by Tamara and the child’s team of doctors.

When Mark’s research was complete, he had developed a strong argument to illustrate how the child’s father was jeopardizing her wellbeing. Mark and Tamara would ask the court to restrict parenting time for the father and compel him to take safety measures.

The days leading up to the temporary orders hearing were nerve-wracking for Tamara. But part of Mark’s job as an attorney is to prime the client for court, particularly providing his or her testimony.

“My last bit of advice to [Tamara] prior to the hearing was that she had to stand up to the judge and force him to recognize the severe health challenges the child faced because the child’s very life depended on it,” Mark said.

Tamara said that pep talk gave her the courage to “speak up for what [she] believed was right in the face of adversity and in spite of [her] fears.”

The Outcome:
The Court Restricts Parenting Time

As a result of Tamara’s tenacious spirit and testimony, the court agreed that the child was being put in harm’s way by the father’s unyielding behavior.

The court ordered the father to comply with certain safety precautions during limited and supervised visits with the child.

Tamara credits Mark’s compelling closing statement as a major factor in obtaining a good outcome, “Mark was bold and courageous,” Tamara said. “I am incredibly thankful he upheld the standards of integrity and accountability.”

While Tamara’s case is not over, she is relieved her child’s life will not be at risk during visits with her father.

Do You Have a Family Law Problem?

Whether your family law issue is related to COVID or another issue entirely, we can help. Our Family Law Team works with individuals and families who experience all kinds of family law matters, including divorce, post-decree modifications, child custody issues, obtaining protection orders, and more.

Schedule a Free Initial Meeting with a Lawyer

Set up some time to talk with one of our family law attorneys about your situation, and discover how we can help you. Call 303-688-0944 or schedule online.

Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Each matter is different and must be judged on its own merits. Facts are those of an actual Robinson & Henry probate case. The client’s name was changed for privacy.

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