I brought my children here during COVID to keep them safe. I still think it was the right thing to do. But my husband didn’t agree, and I was recently ordered to return them to Mexico. I know that I can appeal the decision. I did file a notice of appeal, but I think I have to go back anyway unless I want to risk even more trouble.
My husband and his family are all anti-vaccination and our home in Mexico is in the middle of a terrible COVID hotspot. I am vaccinated but am very worried about my children if I have to return them — one is immune-compromised. Is there anything else I can do to avoid going back at least until the pandemic is over?
You can file a motion to stay the order. The burden is really high, and these motions are not generally allowed. You have to show the judge that you have a likelihood of success on appeal. Initially you file the motion with the trial judge. You should expect it to be denied — after all that was the judge who ordered you to go back. You can then file the motion in the appeals court, where you may have a chance if they believe your appeal will be successful. This is a hard thing to prepare on your own. If at all possible, you should hire an attorney to prepare the motion — even if it is just for that limited piece of properly preparing the paperwork for you.
I don’t know what evidence you provided to the judge during the trial, but I hope you presented evidence of your child’s medical issues as well as your husband and his family’s position on vaccination and statistics of COVID in that area of Mexico. If so, use all of that in your motion. If you did not present that information at trial, you will be prevented from offering it during the appeal process. The appeals court can only consider evidence that was presented to the trial court.
Because motions to stay do not have a high percentage of success, I recommend you also immediately file for custody of your children in Mexico. If you have to go back perhaps there is a way to protect them before you get there. For example, there are areas where COVID is not as prevalent in Mexico — maybe there is a way to get permission to relocate within Mexico. You can also try to petition the court in Mexico to allow you and the children to remain in the USA until the pandemic abates in Mexico. Massachusetts may not be the right place as parenting time would be hard for your husband to exercise but if you offer to move to a border state, options may present themselves.