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Family law case leaves teenage girls in home with sex offender

Most Florida parents have a great deal of concern for the well-being of their children. This concern does not subside when parents divorce; in many cases, the noncustodial parent becomes increasingly anxious about whether his or her children are being properly cared for. In a family law case that has reached one state's highest judicial level, a father has been denied custody of his two daughters, who are residing in the home of a convicted sex offender.

By means of a Google search, the man discovered that his wife had married a convicted child molester. Even more distressing was the fact that the child who had been harmed was the man's stepdaughter at the time the molestation took place. She was just 15 years old, the same age as the father's youngest child. As a result, the father approached the court to seek a change in custody that would grant him primary physical custody of his two daughters, ages 15 and 17.

His request was denied at the District Court level as well of the state's Court of Appeals. When the case reached the state's highest court, those decisions were upheld, although the court was divided on the issue. The resulting opinion stated that the man had not provided sufficient evidence that his children were at risk of harm simply because they were living under the same roof as a convicted sex offender.

Should this father wish to continue his quest for custody, he will need to re-approach the court with proof that his children are at imminent risk of harm, or have been harmed. Until that time, the girl's mother will retain primary custody of her children, and will be able to continue making decisions about their safety and security. This outcome is surprising to many readers in Florida and across the nation, and the case could prompt family law legislative action in the family's state of residence.

Source: omaha.com, "Convicted sex offender can remain in home with stepdaughters, Nebraska Supreme Court rules", Joe Duggan, Aug. 22, 2016

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