If you are a person whose child regularly visits a former partner or ex-spouse who works in the medical field, you are probably more concerned now than at other times regarding their health and well-being. There is always some risk, I suppose, of a person who works in the medical field carrying some illness home and infecting him or herself and the people that they come into contact with. I know that this is not something that we think about frequently, but it is true. There is a greater risk at all times of getting sick when you work in the medical field. I don't think anyone would argue about this.
However, because we now live in the age of a novel virus-like COVID-19, our senses are significantly heightened when it comes to concerning ourselves with the risk that an ex-spouse or co-parent poses to our children as far as their interactions are concerned. To me, this is the most frustrating and saddest part about this whole pandemic. That parent may not feel comfortable or safe being around their children due to their working in the medical field and possibly exposing themselves to the virus. Being able to come home from a hard day at work and see your child is something that many of us take for granted. I can promise you that when all of this is over, those of your parents who work in the medical field will never take this experience for granted in the future.
In writing about this topic, I do not want to come across as trying to give medical advice or perspective. That is not my area of expertise, and it is not something that our law office is capable of doing. However, I think that for the most part, when we deal with this subject that common sense and basic preventative measures should be employed to keep ourselves and our children safe. While nothing is a guarantee of health or safety, and risk will always be a part of our lives, I think we're all more sensitive to health risks now than we were even a few months ago.
Being on the outside looking in Is the position you may find yourself in right now If you are the parent to a child who has regular visitation with the co-parent who works in the medical field. You obviously cannot exert direct control over who your co-parent comes into contact with during their workday. Doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel are coming into contact with this virus more than others. These frontline workers are showing us what diligence and commitment to duty mean. That still doesn't take away from the fact that you may be apprehensive about visitation sessions between your child and your co-parent.
It is natural for you to want to preserve the health of your child as much as possible right now. We are constantly inundated with information and stories about the virus and its impact on particular groups, communities, and age groups. The overall sense that I get from the little bit of news I watch on this subject is that we are made to feel scared or intimidated by the virus and its risk level so that we will not take risks with our health that are unnecessary right now.
Keeping your child safe from the virus means determining what your particular definition of safe is. I may be a lot more cautious in choosing to expose my child to the virus than you. For example, I may be someone who orders their groceries online; he only drives to the store to pick those groceries up. On the other hand, you may be must adverse to coming into contact with others at this time than I would be. There is nothing wrong either with having either perspective on this virus. We need only going to a public area to see evidence that some people are more cautious than others are less concerned with risks presented by the virus.
Just as our society needs to balance caution with our regular activities, the same is true for you and your family. Whether you are the type of parent who wants to wrap your child in bubble wrap and keep him at home all day or you are the type of parent who is more cavalier with living life as you would have become accustomed to, I think today's blog post can help all of us. Having co-parent work in the medical field is just another circumstance that we need to plan for on a family level. Let's discuss some ways that I think it is reasonable for you to attempt to keep your family safe right now.
Communicate your concerns with your co-parent
For starters, if you have a legitimate concern about your child's health and safety, you should speak to your co-parent about it. This is not a novel concept and should not end whenever this pandemic ends. What you should be aware of is that communication with your co-parent is vital. You have probably figured this out on your own. Still, if you haven't, I can tell you that if you can communicate information with your co-parent, both good and bad, your relationship will improve, and you will be better suited to parent your child together. I know that we like to think that this is a unique period; in many ways, it is, but when it comes to communication, you should begin to communicate your concerns with your co-parent now if you have not done so before.
You should be clear with your co-parent about your concerns and discuss any way they can work with you to help keep your child safe. I understand that there is only so much that a co-parent can do to change how they earn a living. Many of these people got into the medical field for precisely these kinds of circumstances. Your co-parent is likely a person with a giving heart in a desire to help people. Short of asking them to leave the medical field and work in an area that is less at risk of coming into contact with the virus, what steps can be taken through communication to help keep your child safe?
I think it is reasonable for you to inquire more about to what extent your co-parent does come into contact with people who are possibly carrying the virus. I know that employers ask those who are sick or are showing signs of the virus to stay home for many doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel. This would eliminate a great deal of risk that may be present for your co-parent as far as they are getting sick. It would help if you directly asked them about their experience over the past few months and whether or not they believe that they are at risk of getting ill more than any other person.
It may be that your co-parent does not work directly with people who are likely to have the virus in that their risk overall of catching the coronavirus is no greater than your own. I think this will be a great weight off of your shoulders to learn that there is no more particular risk of harm for your co-parent in the medical field than will be for you working in any other industry field. Understanding this type of information could cause you to sleep easier at night and worry less about the health and well-being of your child.
On the other hand, you may learn that your co-parent does contact people with the virus. I can think of a few places where your co-parent is more likely to be in this position. An emergency room or hospital is the first place, along with primary care doctors' offices. In many cases, I would imagine that primary care doctors ask folks with mild symptoms of the virus to stay home and prescribe medication or other treatment regimens virtually.
If your co-parent works in a hospital or emergency room environment, then they have no choice but to come into contact with the virus on some level. We have all seen stories about the precautions being used by hospitals and emergency rooms to keep their medical personnel safe. If you are genuinely concerned with your child's well-being, then you should do your best to learn about the efforts being taken by your co-parent to keep themselves safe as possible right now. You may realize that despite their being confronted with the virus every day, your co-parent can go to great lengths to keep himself and your child safe as a result.
What can you do in a worst-case scenario?
Let's imagine a situation where your co-parent does test positive for the coronavirus. No matter what their symptoms are and evidence is mounting showing that the symptoms of many, if not most, people who get the virus these days off can be very mild. You should feel comfortable communicating directly with them that your child needs to be away from them for some time. I cannot envision a situation where any parent would be willing to expose their child to the virus rather than lose visitation time.
You and your co-parent need to keep in mind that Visitation time can always be adjusted and rearranged to consider unpredictable circumstances like the coronavirus. I realize that you have probably been told by a judge and an attorney at various points in your life that family court orders need to be followed as strictly as possible as much as possible. However, this is one of the circumstances where you and your co-parent need to be flexible with one another and need to be able to communicate regarding changes and visitation schedules.
For example, if your co-parent who works in the medical field does become infected with a virus, then your child's health and well-being are the most important thing to be mindful of. It would help if you educated yourself on How the virus is transmitted and when you are co-parenting your child were together. It may be that the risk of your child catching the virus in time without coherent is very low. On the other hand, the risk may have been higher depending on the specific period of days spent with one another.
You should contact your child's pediatrician once he learns about your co-parent's positive diagnosis to determine the next steps needed regarding the health of your child and a proper time. To keep your child away from other people, including the co-parent who has the virus. Those specific steps are best discussed between you and the doctor and are not something, but I want to delve into any specificity here on this blog.
Questions about Texas family law during the COVID-19 pandemic? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. We have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic on behalf of our clients and will continue to do so. We value the trust that our clients place in our office a great deal, and we will be honored to speak to you about how our office may best serve you and your family.