For many children in Florida, the foster care system can be a wonderful option when their family is unable to provide care. A recent court case brought by one girl’s former foster parents has people questioning the rights of biological parents, especially when that parent has been convicted of a crime. In this case, the court must decide who will have child custody — her biological father or the foster family that she has lived with for the past eight years.
The girl’s father had been in federal prison as a result of a conviction regarding some weapons crimes. A lower court ruled that the man should lose all of his parental rights as a result of his imprisonment. A state court of appeals, however, has since reversed that decision, saying it was made in error.
As part of the recent ruling issued by a Tennessee judge, the girl will remain with her biological father in Nebraska. Reports indicate that a guardian ad litem, appointed by the court, has determined that it would be detrimental to return the young girl to her foster parents in Tennessee. The foster parents claim they are willing to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a case such as this, the court must determine the best interests of the child and balance them with the legal rights of a biological parent in regards to child custody. Unfortunately, deciding between a couple that has stepped in as parents for several years and a father who has paid his debt to society and wants to establish a relationship with his daughter is likely a difficult one for a family court. Many people in Florida can likely sympathize with both sides in this case.
Source: wbir.com, “TN foster parents denied custody of 9-year-old girl“, Brian Haas, May 16, 2014