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The Emerging Challenges COVID-19 Poses to Parental Rights

April 1, 2021

The widespread reach of the current pandemic has caused significant disruption to the U.S. court system. Most courts are closed, hearings are being held online – there is simply no precedent for these present conditions.

In addition to the unconventional operation of the justice system, the crisis has also created significant challenges for parents who are medical professionals. In normal times, child custody can be a volatile situation with parents seeking to take advantage of a myriad of circumstances, but in our current state, we see a new scenario. Parents who are healthcare professionals are being targeted as dangerous parents and are subsequently having their parenting rights challenged.

So, what can a parent who is working on the front lines do to safeguard their parental rights? Below we will explore some measures that those in the healthcare field can take to bolster their position as safe parents.

Steps Healthcare Professionals Can Take to Protect Their Parental Rights

As mentioned above, COVID-19 has affected how all of us live our lives, including how we work and socialize, and the courts are no exception. And due to an increased concern regarding safety, parents (and judges) have been giving greater scrutiny to the well-being of children who are in the care of parents that work in medical facilities.

Although procedures may vary from state to state and decisions are being made on a case-by-case basis, if you are a doctor, nurse, or another health professional, here are some suggestions for defending your rights as a parent.

Demonstrate How Your Career is Not a Danger to Your Child

Ensure that you are routinely tested and can provide evidence of your negative COVID-19 status to the court. If you do not have the virus and show that you are actively monitoring your condition, this can confirm that you are not a danger to your child.

Clarify Your Risks for Contracting Coronavirus

Any parent, or person for that matter, can contract the virus. But certain groups, such as those who work in a hospital, are at an increased risk compared with those who are not in such professions. However, it is not definite that a nurse or other healthcare worker will contract the virus. Plus, those who work in medical settings may take increased precautions affording them greater protection over those in the general public.

Elucidate Safety Measures You are Taking to Protect Yourself

Being able to explain how you are protecting yourself as, say a doctor, further supports the previous recommendation. Give the court details about all the precautions your place of employment is taking to protect its employees. Inform the court how often you are being tested at work and the extent of your possible exposure to COVID-19 on the job. Remember, the judge does not want to deprive you of seeing your child, but he or she is concerned about the child's safety. Do all you can to assure the court that you do not pose a risk to the child.

Establish Your Credibility as a Medical Expert

Although many months have passed since the first case of the virus was identified in the United States, we continue to learn how the virus works. Still, there is substantial misinformation that exists. As someone who works in the medical field, you have an advantage in terms of your exposure to the most accurate and up-to-date information about COVID-19. Sharing any information provided by your employer may give a greater understanding to all those involved, including the judge who is not a medical expert and relies on reliable data from trusted sources to make an informed decision.


These are undoubtedly stressful times. If you are a parent whose job it is to care for the sick, it becomes even more stressful when the work you are doing is used against you to restrict or eliminate your parenting time. If you have specific questions about child visitation and custody, or how to protect your parental rights, give Attorney Jana K. Jones a call to schedule a confidential appointment.