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Mask mandates could impact child custody in Florida

| Nov 5, 2020 | Child Custody |

Divorcing or ending a relationship with children can be messy. It can take much time and effort to establish a child custody plan, and once in place, it is often difficult to alter or modify a current order in Florida without proof of a substantial change in circumstances. However, when a need arises, modifying a custody order can be crucial to the best interests of the child or children involved. Thus, it is important that parents fully understand this process and what rights they may have to seek modification or prevent modifications from occurring.

Child custody impacted by pandemic

Without a doubt, the pandemic has altered one’s normal way of life. Whether that means working from home, educating their children virtually at home, changing what public places one travels to and safety precautions taken in public and at home. Some parents can take very different approaches to mask mandates, as some are on board with this while others refuse to comply. When divorced or split parents take very different approaches, this could spark major issues when it comes to parenting time.

A recent ruling in Broward County illustrates this. In this matter, the mother moved from Coral Springs to North Carolina. Due to her stance on mask usage and her posts on social media, it was purported by the father of their 14-year-old son that she was causing a health risk for their child. Their son has an underlying condition that puts him at an increased risk of danger if her were to contract the virus; therefore, the father sought to temporarily modify the order to ensure the safety and welfare of their son.

Temporary modification

Based on the evidence provided to the judge, he made a temporary order that would suspend in-person visits due to her choices that put the child’s health at risk. However, it was ordered that in-person visits could be supervised in order to ensure masks were worn during placement. The final ruling stated that once a safe and reliable vaccine is available, the mother may be vaccinated and the child may be vaccinated, allowing for this particular danger to be eliminated.

While the mother may not have expected this ruling, it illustrates that if a child’s health, welfare or best interests are compromised, a judge could step in to alter a current custody order. Therefore, it is important that parents understand their rights in this situation and other situations that concern the custody or visitation of a child.