Court Battles

Miami ER doctor temporarily loses custody of 4-year-old amid coronavirus fears

Judges use a small wooden mallet to signal for attention or order.

A Miami emergency room doctor is appealing her temporary loss of custody of her 4-year-old amid fears over the coronavirus pandemic, her attorney said in a statement. 

Theresa Greene’s ex-husband Eric Greene requested full custody of their daughter last week with an emergency order. Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judge Bernard Shapiro approved his request to “protect the best interests” of the child, CNN and NBC affiliate WTVJ-TV in Miami reported.

He said in the ruling that “this Court temporarily suspends the Former Wife’s timesharing until further Order of Court. The suspension is solely related to the outbreak of COVID-19.”

Theresa Greene’s attorney Steven Nullman said in a statement obtained by The Hill that her legal team submitted an appeal to the 3rd District Court of Appeals on Monday.

“Dr. Greene and I are disappointed with the court’s decision,” he said. “We believe that the decision sets out a very dangerous precedent that could have a major impact on healthcare providers around the country who are risking their own lives while fighting to save others.”

Theresa Greene, who has been divorced from Eric Greene for almost two years and has split custody with him, said the court has discriminated against her as a divorced parent. 

“I think it’s not fair, it’s cruel to ask me to choose between my child and the oath I took as a physician,” she told CNN. “I won’t abandon my team at work or the patients who will increasingly look to me to save their lives in the coming weeks, but it’s torture.”

“If I was married I’d be given the opportunity to go home to my child, no one could tell me I shouldn’t do that,” she added.

The doctor maintains that she has worn personal protective equipment at all times while at work and said she has tested negative for COVID-19, according to the news outlets.

Paul Leinoff, Eric Greene’s attorney, said in a statement to The Hill that he and his client both have “the upmost respect” for his ex-wife’s “commitment to her critical work” during the coronavirus crisis. He pointed out that the ruling allows Theresa Greene to have “daily video communication” with her daughter and make up each day of custody missed in the future. 

“The Greenes’ temporary timesharing dispute was presented before the Court based upon the specific facts of this individual family and a decision was reached based upon the best interests and safety of a minor child, limited to the temporary circumstances presented by COVID-19,” he said in a statement. “The Court’s ruling was not intended to serve as a blanket rule, nor should it.”

The ruling comes amid the coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 584,000 people in the U.S. and killed at least 23,709, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Tags Child custody Coronavirus COVID-19 doctor emergency room Florida Miami

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