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In some Florida cases, custody decisions could be revisited

An unusual series of events has left many West Coast parents wondering if their custody cases were handled in the proper manner. A family court mediator has been charged with falsifying records in a child custody case, and attorneys in the area have been notified that any cases that they have worked on that were associated with the mediator could be subject to new hearings. That has left many people in Florida and across the nation debating just how easily a legal matter can become unduly influenced.

The 36-year-old man was a social worker who played a role in multiple court cases in recent years. He was part of a case in which an 8-year-old boy was harmed at the hands of his caregivers. Despite having been contacted numerous times with reports of abuse, the social worker and his co-workers failed to remove the child from his home. Eventually, the little boy was found dead, with missing teeth, cigarette burns and BB pellets in his lungs and groin. His mother and her boyfriend have been charged in the death.

The social worker was accused of falsifying records in the matter. Under threat of being fired, he resigned his position with that county, but moved to another county and found employment in the same role. When the prior investigation resulted in criminal charges, his new employers were made aware of the matter, and an investigation has been launched into what type of background check was performed prior to his most recent position.

The social worker has testified in many child custody cases, and the outcomes of those cases may now be in jeopardy. The courts take the word of social workers very seriously, and if a parent lost custody based on testimony by this individual, he or she could have recourse to bring the matter back before a court of law. For parents in Florida and elsewhere, the story serves as a warning of the power handed to social workers, and how easily that power can be abused.

Source: sbsun.com, "L.A. County child abuse case vexes San Bernardino County child custody cases", Joe Nelson, April 20, 2016

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