In a case that reached one state's highest judicial level, a man has been denied primary custody of his children, who are residing with a convicted sex offender. The matter has sparked debate across the country, as few parents in Alabama or elsewhere can imagine living in a scenario in which they are left feeling helpless to protect their children from harm. The child custody case may prompt legislative action in the state where the family resides.
At the center of the matter is a father who became concerned when he learned that the mother of his two teenage daughters had married a man with a prior conviction for molesting a child. Even more distressing was the fact that the child in question was the man's 15-year-old stepdaughter at the time the crime took place. Because the man's daughters are now 15 and 17 years old, the father felt that they were at risk by living in the same home with their new stepfather.
His bid for custody was denied, however, at the District Court level as well as the state's Court of Appeals. When the case reached the state's highest judicial level, that court was divided on the issue. The outcome, however, was the determination that the father presented insufficient evidence that his children are at risk simply by living in the same home as a convicted sex offender. If he plans on continuing his quest for custody, he will be required to prove to a court that the girls are in imminent risk of harm, or have been harmed.
Few parents can imagine a scenario in which they would feel less able to provide for the security of their children. While the child custody matter could be viewed as a win from the perspective of the mother's parental rights, few parents are able to see the issue in that light. What the case does illustrate, for parents in Alabama and beyond, is the importance of crafting a strong legal argument when seeking custody of one or more children.
Source: omaha.com, "Convicted sex offender can remain in home with stepdaughters, Nebraska Supreme Court rules", Joe Duggan, Aug. 22, 2016