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What constitutes child neglect?

Disputes concerning child custody are often riddled with complications. It often becomes a matter of which party one is going to believe. And sometimes all of the contradictory statements and information that is entered into evidence makes a determination as to what is best for the children extremely difficult.

Recently a Florida mother made the news when she went to Busch Gardens with her boyfriend while her two children were left home alone. The children were 4 and 9-years old. The home in which the children were saying also did not have an operational telephone. Deputies stayed with the children for several hours until they located the mother and now the mother is charged with child neglect.

The mother claimed that she was a loving and caring mother who generally had a sitter to look after the children. She claims this single incident was an aberration and that she would not make such a mistake again. At most, she would only leave the oldest son alone for a few hours when she went to work.

There is no specific Florida law that determines what age children need to be before they can stay at home unsupervised. Even if there was such a law, it would still be important to determine whether good judgment was shown in leaving such children unsupervised.

Determining what would be best for the children would require looking at all of the circumstances and cannot be confined to one single incident. However such incidents must also be taken into consideration if such an incident indicated extremely poor judgment on the part of a parent. It is the job of family law attorneys to make the case as to what sort of custodial situation would provide the most benefits for the children.

Source: Tampa Bay Online, "Hernando mother defends herself in child neglect case," by Tony Holt, April 9, 2012

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