Following tragedy, family faces unexpected child custody needs

The vast majority of custody battles play out between a mother and father who have ended their relationship and are struggling to divide parenting time and responsibilities. There are cases, however, in which the parties differ, and where families are faced with child custody needs that are far from the norm. An example is found in a current case that centers on the murder of a mother and the need to provide care for her three children. Parents in Florida and across the nation find it distressing to even consider such circumstances, but this is an issue that faces a number of families each and every year.

The mother was only 35 years old when she was shot and killed by the father of her youngest child. He was then killed by police when he presented a weapon in their presence. That left three kids -- a 1-year-old girl, 8-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl -- without their mother, and authorities placed them in a children's shelter. The mother's extended family immediately stepped in, and her brother asked the court to place the kids in his care.

He was successful in his efforts, and was supported by close to 20 other family members who appeared in court on his behalf. However, it would be a mistake for the family to rest assured that this matter has been finalized. In many similar cases, other individuals will step in and try to seek custody, including the family of the parent who killed his or her partner. In this case, it is unclear whether the other two children share the same father, but anyone with a familiar link to the kids could come forward and mount a custody challenge.

In cases such as this, the best course of action for the individual who gains initial custody is to consult with a Florida child custody attorney to determine the best way to strengthen a claim to the children involved. That may mean improving the living circumstances for the kids, attending parenting courses or making efforts to meet any special needs that the children may have. It most certainly includes careful and comprehensive documentation of all efforts to create a loving and proper home for the children, just in case a custody battle is initiated. 

Source:, "Murdered mother's family granted custody of her children", Charlie Cooper, June 20, 2017

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