PLANTATION, Fla. - A divorced emergency room doctor temporarily lost custody of her daughter after a South Florida judge ruled the child's "safety and welfare" were at risk due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Theresa Greene works at Westside Regional Medical Center in Plantation, Florida. She told WSVN she divorced her husband two years ago, but the two had split time evenly with their 4-year-old daughter.
That all changed last week, when her ex-husband, Eric Greene, asked for an emergency order for sole custody for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Bernard Shapiro temporarily granted full custody to the father until the virus is no longer a major threat.
"In order to protect the best interests of the minor child, including but not limited to the minor child’s safety and welfare, this Court temporarily suspends the Former Wife’s timesharing until further Order of Court," Shapiro wrote in his ruling. "The suspension is solely related to the outbreak of COVID-19.”
Greene says the ruling is painful and unfair.
“It’s cruel to have to ask me to choose between my child and the oath that I took as a position,” she told WSVN. “I really have no certainty there, and the end of the pandemic? I mean, no one can say when that will be."
Greene said she has tested negative for coronavirus and is following the American Medical Association's guidance for first responders and frontline physicians during the crisis, which states that health care professionals can interact and live with their families if they take the necessary health precautions.
“I was just shocked that the judge would take this stance without talking to medical experts and knowing the facts and take it so lightly, take my child from me and not think of the effect on her, her mental and psychological well-being,” Greene told NBC News. "I feel like the family court system now is stressing me almost more than the virus. I mean this is a very stressful time for health care professionals."
She argued she is able to keep her daughter safe during the pandemic, and noted her hospital has an adequate supply of personal protective equipment.
“I know what I’m doing. This isn’t the first communicable disease that I’ve encountered,” Greene said. “And yes, it is severe, and there’s danger, and we’re being very careful.”
Her ex-husband's attorney told WSVN that every day their daughter loses with her mother will be made up, and said the two can make daily video calls until then. Meanwhile, Greene's attorney said the ruling sets a dangerous precedent and has filed an appeal.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to email@example.com. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know
AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com
Map of known COVID-19 cases:
MOBILE APP USERS: Click here for map