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Court takes second look after placing toddler with known abuser

Investigations by news media have yet to uncover what information caused a Duval County judge in Florida to approve an adoption of a toddler girl by a relative with an active warrant for domestic battery. The court has chosen to evaluate the case again amid concerns that the adoptive uncle and aunt present an unsafe home. The aunt said that her husband, who is the brother of the girl's biological father, had been violent on multiple occasions and had access to a firearm.

The child, who was born on July 4, 2015, had been taken from her parents at the age of three months by the Department of Children and Families. The girl had drugs in her system at the time of birth and endured neglect from her mother. Child protection authorities placed the girl with the mother's brother and wife. A report prepared by the guardian ad litem 10 months after the placement found that the girl was thriving within a loving household.

However, the biological mother signed away her parental rights so that the biological father's brother and wife could adopt the girl. She said that the biological father threatened her life if she did not sign the papers. The status of the girl's adoption remains to be determined.

A parent who wants to prevent a potentially abusive parent from gaining child custody might choose to have an attorney represent the case. An attorney could investigate the criminal history of the other parent and document any evidence of child abuse or domestic violence. When presenting this information in court, the lawyer could emphasize how the child's best interests could be served by granting sole custody to the client.

Source: News 4 JAX, "Court Reexamining Liberty Belle's Adoption Case," Lynnsey Gardner, Dec. 6, 2016

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