Child custody hearings are not just for feuding parents. A child custody hearing can take place anytime the best interests of the child may be threatened by a current custody arrangement. For one couple, this means battling authorities from the state of Florida to regain custody of their two children after the couple was accused of having made a suicide pact between them that included the children as well.
The parents traveled cross-country to a Brevard County courtroom in December to attempt to regain custody of their 4-year-old and 2-year-old children, currently in foster care in Florida. California police took the children into custody after Florida officials alleged that the couple threatened to kill both themselves and their children in the event that autism treatment for one of the children was unsuccessful.
The Florida Department of Children and Families claim that the couple fled the state before an investigation into the allegations was complete, leading to the removal of the children. A lawyer for the parents claims that the statements made by them were misconstrued.
The hearing was conducted to look into giving custody to the paternal grandmother of the children, but the judge refused, stating concern that the parents could gain access to the children if they were released to the grandmother. Visitation with the children by the parents will be allowed for at least four hours a week prior to the next hearing scheduled for the case on Jan. 4.
Parents who face a loss of custody have a right to fight to preserve it. Most Florida courts attempt to maintain as much contact between parents and children as possible, which can provide parents seeking a return of custody from the Florida Department of Children and Families an edge as long as they can prove that they are fit to parent. Ultimately, however, child custody is determined based on the best interests of the children involved.
Source: My Fox Orlando, "Couple that allegedly threatened suicide pact fighting for custody of kids," Derrol Nail, Dec. 24, 2012