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Parental responsibility questioned in boy's disappearance

A 5-year-old Florida boy has been declared missing, with his disappearance being characterized as a suspected murder. The child's father only recently discovered that his son had not been seen since mid-September, prompting questions about the child custody issues that might have prevented the child's fate. Official reports show that the missing boy's mother had physical custody of her son, along with his 7-year-old sister and 9-year-old brother.

Authorities report that the 28-year-old mother is being held on allegations of child endangerment. She is also accused of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a felony charge. The woman's boyfriend, age 22, is accused of battering the children, as well. His charges are more severe.

Now, the children's father is working to regain custody of the two older children, though he still holds out meager hope that his son is still alive. Not only has the Department of Children and Families seized custody of the children, but it also fired two social workers because they failed to adequately police the woman while she had physical custody of the children. The woman reportedly kept the children from their father and his relatives after the couple broke up. Interestingly, they never divorced; instead, the woman simply sought a restraining order against her estranged husband.

This situation underscores the need for child custody agreements and a thorough evaluation of the best interest of the child. In this instance, it appears that officers are targeting the mother's boyfriend as a potential murder suspect. Scores of fathers are effectively ousted from their children's lives, only to see new partners perpetrating abuse and neglect upon their kids. Parents who suspect abuse by a custodial parent's new beau may be entitled to a child custody change. Those individuals may benefit from a consultation with a qualified Florida family attorney, who can help them advocate for their children's rights.

Source: Sentinel and Enterprise, "Friends, family cry out for Jeremiah" Jack Minch, Dec. 21, 2013

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