Family law is a very emotion-packed field of law. What matters to most people the most, family, is on the line in these cases, whether dealing with a divorce, child custody, adoption or other family law dispute. A family’s future depends upon a judge’s decision.
One grandmother in an out-of-state case is living with that reality and mourning how a judge’s child custody decision stripped her of her rights to her granddaughter. Not only is the family that’s directly involved in this case in shock, but much of the nation is having a hard time understanding the controversial family law decision.
Why all of the upset? According to various reports, this Florida case involves a young girl’s grandparents and her legal father. The now 3-year-old girl’s mother died shortly after the child was born. Since then, the mother’s parents (child’s grandparents) raised the girl. It is suspected that the legal father in this case is not the girl’s biological father, but since he was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, he is legally considered her father.
When the child’s grandmother filed to formally adopt the child, the father in this case leveraged his legal status in order to gain custody of the girl. The judge presiding over this case ruled in favor of the father and granted him full custody – even though he is a registered sex offender. He was classified as such because at the age of 38, he got the child’s mother pregnant when she was only 14 year old.
Therefore, there are a few reasons why many are questioning the judge’s child custody decision. First, the child has spent all of her life living in Florida, being raised by her grandparents. Second, the father had filed for divorce from the mother before her death because he suspected she was pregnant with another man’s baby. Third, the father is a registered sex offender.
Many people from state officials to family law professionals to the general public are left asking, “Is this child custody decision truly in the best interest of the child?” The grandparents have the opportunity to challenge what they see as a heartbreaking decision through an appeal. They can also present their case to the Department of Child and Family Services in an effort to undo the custody decision.
We will post an update if there are developments in this high-profile case.
ABC News: “Grandmother, Sex Offender Fight for Custody of Child,” Dean Schabner, 17 Jul. 2011