I hope someone can offer me some advice. I am going through a divorce currently. I have sole custody of my children. My daughter, age 7. has a serious peanut allergy. My children are court ordered to have supervised visitation with their father who is an alcoholic. The person who is the deemed monitor of the visits through the court doesn't have training or knowlege in food allergies and can't administer an epipen due to liability. So it is assumed that my ex, with a history of irresponsiblity and alcoholism as well a poor judgment about my daughter's allergies, is the one deemed in charge of monitoring the allergy, reactions, and epipen, etc. I am not at all comfortable with this arrangement and my attorney can't seem to find a solution. I am looking into getting my daughter a disability attorney, but am not sure if this will help either. I have spoken the the state disability law center and I've been told they can't help me either. Does anyone know of any resources or suggestions about how to handle this situation. I am asking for a monitor who can administer the epipen in an emergency, but there has been no agreement with regards to this issue. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I feel as though people I am dealing with are seeing me as an overeactive parent instead of seeing the seriousness of protecting my child's safety. I have been told things like "just get an agreement that there will be no food on the visits" which is fine, but what about accidental exposures that can occur? I am losing sleep over this issue. I hope someone can throw some help my way. I have searched the internet through and through and can find no resources to address this specific concern. HELP!!!
On Feb 1, 2008
That's a hard one, but I think you need to trust that her father would do the right thing. After all, he's making an attempt to see her. Plus, she is old enough to know that she should not have peanuts. Maybe you can send her with her own food if it's during mealtime hours. Sorry if I seem insensitive, but I think your torturing yourself over something that your imagining could happen. Also, if your ex-husband is "under the influence", the court appointed monitor would end the visit. I think you can send your daughter prepared and perhaps have a conversation with your ex through your lawyers to make sure that he understands what needs to be done in an emergency.
On Feb 2, 2008
who will be monitoring the visits? a state person? or is it a family member? you said because of liability? is there a good samaritan law that protects a person who is helping in an emergency?
You did not say how old your daughter is? could she give herself the epi pen if needed?
On Feb 2, 2008
My child is 7 so not yet able to self administer. The monitor is hired through the court, not sure if state or contract though. I am not sure if the Good Samaritan Law applies to everyone or just the medical personnel? Thanks for the reply.
On Feb 2, 2008
Dear cautiousmom, I just want to express my admiration for you. My Dad was an alcoholic, so I know that the actual drinking is the tip of the iceberg - alcoholism usually carries with it verbal and emotional abuse, manipulation, and lying. Kudos to you for protecting your child not only from food allergy reactions, but, more importantly, from what I gather is a very toxic environment emotionally. You are setting a wonderful example for your children. Having said that, your child might be very safe during these visits, if no food is allowed, and this is strictly enforced. Who is the monitor? A friend or relative of your child's father, who might be prone to overlook or try to cover up signs of intoxication or other misbehavior? Or a social worker or other court worker, who would be more strict and neutral? Your last email suggests it's the latter scenario, which is good. Where do they meet? An office which really has no food in it, or someplace else? Can you get the court to stipulate that if the monitor, child, or father suspects ANY allergic reaction of any kind, they MUST contact you immediately and allow you to come and provide medical care even if it means the visit is interrupted? If that's the case, you could find a place to loiter about 10min or less away - a lobby, a coffee house, whatever, and be on standby with your cell phone. From my first aid training, the good samaritan law applies to anybody. I'm not sure if this supersedes any particular company's policy but it is true for the general public. you might try googling it and see what comes up.
On Feb 3, 2008
I would call faan and get the contact info for chris weiss, their legal consultant. best wishes
On Feb 5, 2008
Thanks for the suggestion. Chris offered a great argument for my epipen liabilty issue. This is going to be a long hard road, but I need to continue to advocate for my daughter. Any more ideas are greatly appreciated. If anyone has had experiences in court with divorce/custody related to this issue, please share.