Child custody issues common when state intervenes


When most people think of child custody issues, they typically think of one of two situations. The first occurs when a married couple decides to divorce and, as part of the marriage dissolution process, they have to decide how to resolve child custody and visitation issues. The second situation arises when an unmarried couple must figure out how to settle the same matters. Here, a couple may have to deal with paternity issues, as well as concerns about what kind of arrangement furthers the best interests of the child, which are similar to divorce child custody matters.

Although these two scenarios make up the vast majority of child custody issues, there is also a third situation that can arise. Here, a parent may lose custody to his or her child if the Office of Child Welfare gets involved over concerns of child abuse or neglect. Under state law, those who believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect must make a report. Therefore, Floridians may find themselves the subject of an investigation merely because of thin suspicions.

However, if a case is opened and the Department of Children and Families gets involved, then a parent may not only temporarily lose custody until the state's concerns area addressed, but his or her parental rights may also be on the line. To see just how common this situation can be, one need only look at the state's statistics. So far this year, there have been more than 151,000 reports called in involving more than 200,000 children. This has resulted in more than 16,000 kids being subjected to official cases and nearly 3,000 of them being adopted.

So, whether an individual is a parent who is seeking to avoid or end state intervention or a family looking to adopt a child who has been in the system for too long, competent legal assistance may be key. In these cases, just as with divorced and unmarried parents, the most important thing to remember is that child custody and visitation matters will be decided based on what furthers the child's best interests. An experienced family law attorney may be able to help an individual craft their legal arguments that support that position.

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