This family’s lawyer filed a motion to suspend or modify a noncustodial parent/child contact visit to the state of Florida for the summer due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Governor’s order for non essential travel. It was denied by Judge Howard E VanBenthuysen, Superior Court Judge in Franklin County on May 28 with these two sentences: “The allegations concerning the conditions in Florida are too vague and non-specific to support a prima facile showing of a substantial change in circumstances. Defendant’s other claim that he is fearful of traveling and concerned for the welfare of his children are not in and of themselves, sufficient to make a showing of a substantial change”. It is well known that COVID-19 has not vanished but this judge does not know of this?

We cannot find where in any of the COVID-19 governor’s orders he has addressed this type of travel for Vermont parents nor does he speak to the judge’s decisions in our state ordering such travel. He does state “parental shared custody” is essential travel but that would be where the parents households are close and within the State. This is not our situation..custody is not shared. Sole custody is here. This type of travel needs to be addressed as we are sure this family is not the only family in this type of situation regarding out of state travel for child visitation. A response from the Vermont Health Department hotline line was “children who get the virus is very low and they recover quickly“ and a response from DCF was “our hands are tied”! I also spoke with Rachel at County Courier, Laurie Hurlburt of the governor’s office of Department of Human Services Mike Smith, Ellie French at Vt Digger, Rep Randy Brock, I emailed the Governor and Commissioner Mark Levine at Vermont Department of Health. This travel is certainly not essential at this time and parents will be putting their children’s health and welfare in jeopardy as well as others during the pandemic due to ill informed decisions by our judges. Shame on them...

Cynthia Lussier


Recommended for you