Florida mother’s arrest could lead to child custody battle

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Relatives of five children living in Florida were shocked to find the kids living in a filthy home filled with trash. According to her own posts on a social media site, the children’s mother was dreading the kids getting out of school. The post also indicated that she wanted to make plans to get away from them, and she asked her friends to “rescue” her. The woman was charged with neglect after authorities learned just how bad the living conditions actually were.

Not only was there trash on the ground that people had to wade through just to walk around the house, but there were also various insect infestations, black mold in the walls and a whole host of other health and sanitation issues. The children have been removed from the home, the mother has been arrested, and the home has been condemned.

The relatives are now arriving from other parts of the country to help the children. One strategy they are taking involves attempting to get custody of the kids so that they can live in a much more healthy situation. A judge will have to determine if this is in the best interests of the child in each case, however. It is not yet known if the mother will be fighting the custody attempts.

The uncle of two of the children talked to the press and was very candid about how appalled he was with the whole situation. He said that he wished he had been able to help the children sooner, but that they had never complained about their living situation or told anyone just how bad it really was.

Many laws are in place to protect children who are neglected. However, getting custody of a another person’s child can be complex and difficult. Even if neglect has been an issue, it would be best for a person trying to gain custody to be as informed as possible in order to navigate the potentially complicated process.

Source: WFTV, “Relatives of Orlando children found living in filth come to Fla. to help” No author given, Mar. 27, 2014

Custody dispute over teen to be settled by judge

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When most parents make decisions regarding their child, they usually consider all the available options. Whether the issue is what school their child should attend or the medical treatment the child should receive, a parent should always keep the best interests of the child in mind. Sometimes though, others might feel that parents are not acting in a child’s best interests and decide to intervene. When this happens, parents can find themselves locked in a custody battle they never thought would happen to them.

Orlando readers might be familiar with a dispute between parents of a teen girl and a hospital. The teen girl was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease by one hospital, but a second hospital disagreed. The second hospital believes that the girl does not have the disease but has a psychological disorder. When the girl’s parents attempted to transfer back to the original hospital, the second hospital intervened and charged the parents with medical child abuse. The teen has been in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families ever since.

The parents have filed a motion to be granted conditional custody of their daughter. Children and families services is fighting the motion. The judge can find in favor of the parents, find in favor for the agency or opt to transfer the teen’s care to the state of Connecticut, which is her home state.

This case is interesting because generally, social services gets involved when a child is being denied care. However in this case, care is being given, but there is a disagreement about a diagnosis. The judge’s decision will be important because it could set a precedent; it could allow a hospital over overrule a parent’s decision about the care and treatment for a child. Those who find themselves in a battle for their child should consider seeking the advice of an experienced legal professional so their rights to parent can be enforced and protected.

Source: Newsmax, “Justina Pelletier: Judge to Settle Custody Battle for 15-Year-Old” Clyde Hughes, Mar. 20, 2014

With school year approaching, be civil with your former spouse

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As parents in Orlando and all across Florida prepare for their children to return to school (and as the kids soak up those fleeting summer days), many divorced parents are coming to the realization that they will have an increased amount of interaction with their former spouse. The school year means that pick-up and drop-off schedules must be arranged; that post-school activities are planned and known; and that the former spouses are aware of everything going on entering the school year regarding classes.

So how can divorced parents get along under these tough circumstances? Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Remember to be civil: This is a crucial part of this “back to school” process. You and your former spouse may not have ended on the best of terms, but when your child is involved and his or her schooling, it is best for both of you to set aside some of the disdain so that you can focus on what’s really important: your child’s happiness.
  • Talk things out and come up with a schedule: Make note of days that you are unable to pick up or drop off your child; discuss the after-school programs, sports and lessons your child is a part of; and be prepared to negotiate and collaborate so that things work for everyone.
  • Dealing with homework: You want to make sure your son or daughter stays on track with his or her schooling. So, you and your former spouse could have a talk about what types of homework each of you will help your child with. This way, both parents are actively involved in the child’s schooling.

Source: Huffington Post, “Co-Parenting Tips for Kicking Off This New School Year On The Right Foot,” Diane L. Danois, Aug. 12, 2013