Parents face child custody case and criminal charges

In the vast majority of custody battles, the parties fall along predictable lines. Two Florida parents are unable to see eye-to-eye over the care and custody of a shared child or children, and they take the matter before a court. There are child custody cases, however, that do not fit this mold. An example is found in a couple facing both a child custody battle and criminal charges in connection with the death of their third child.

The couple belongs to a religious group that prohibits the use of medical intervention in virtually all circumstances. Because of their religious beliefs, they failed to seek medical care after their daughter was born in their home. A midwife attending to the mother and infant expressed concern that the child appeared jaundiced and suggested that the parents take their daughter to see a doctor.

They refused, and the mother stated that "God makes no mistakes." After three days, the infant died. A relative called the authorities, who arrived at the home to find several adults praying over the child's body. The parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter, and two other children were later removed from the home. 

At a recent review hearing, the couple refused to comply with proposed conditions for the return of their two young children. One of those conditions was that the parents would not be allowed to physically discipline their children, ages 2 and 3. Now, they face the termination of their parental rights and the loss of all three of their children. 

These types of cases are difficult for everyone involved. They balance the religious freedoms of adults with the best interests of their children. Very often, these types of child custody cases push the limits of parental rights and the authority of the state. For Florida parents who are faced with similar challenges, it is important to take an aggressive legal stance as soon as possible. 

Source:, "Couple charged in newborn's death opted for "physical discipline" over custody of 2 other children", Christopher Haxel, Oct. 3, 2017

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