Florida mom seeks custody of son, says father is virus risk
Some 56.3% of law students who took the Florida Bar Examination this year passed.

court judge gavel
She says the father, a first-responder, could infect the child with coronavirus.

A Florida mother is asking a judge to allow her to keep custody of her 2-year-old son during the pandemic, claiming the boy’s father and his fiance are at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus since they’re first-responders.

Tabatha Sams has asked a judge to let her keep custody of Dawson Thilmony until the pandemic-induced state of emergency in Florida is over. The boy’s father, Stephen Thilmony, is a firefighter and emergency medicine technician, and his fiance is an emergency room nurse at Osceola Regional Hospital in a suburb of Orlando.

The father and mother were splitting custody of their son.

A judge this week denied an emergency request to stop visitations with the father, and a virtual hearing on the matter is scheduled for next week.

The mother said in court papers that the risk posed by the boy’s father is no fault of his own and she’s not trying to deny him access to their child. But hospitals nationwide have struggled with the outbreak and that there isn’t enough protective equipment for medical personnel, she said.

“As COVID-19 has spread throughout the United States, medical professionals and first responders have been subjected to coronavirus at a higher rate, due to their increased exposure to individuals testing positive for the virus,” Sams said in court papers.

Late last month, the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court issued an order suspending requirements for all in-person visitations through mid-April because of the cornavirus threat.

“This order does not affect in-person visitations when all parties and the caregiver agree that the visitation can take place in a manner that does not pose as a health threat,” wrote Chief Justice Charles Canady.

An attorney for the boy’s father, Debra Botwin, didn’t respond to an email seeking comment. In a text message to Sams included as an exhibit in court papers, Thilmony said he didn’t think he and his fiance were doing anything wrong.

“We are taking proper measures to protect ourselves and him,” Thilmony said.

Associated Press

One comment

  • Thomas Knapp

    April 6, 2020 at 6:07 am

    The state of emergency is panic-induced, not pandemic-induced.

    Whether the panic is justified by the pandemic remains to be seen, but “causes politicians to declare states of emergency” is not one of COVID-19’s symptoms.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704