Tragic event demands change in child custody

Court has temporarily granted custody to grandfather

The Florida courts are trying to work out the custody arrangements of a 7-year-old girl whose father is accused of killing his mother, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The mother, who had previously agreed to the father being awarded full custody, has flown to Florida from her home in Maryland to fight for custody after learning of the slaying.

Man killed mother while daughter was inside

The father is accused of killing his mother in her backyard with a sledgehammer while his daughter played video games inside. After the slaying, the father drove the girl to a friend's house and then turned himself in at the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

The accused was then interviewed by detectives at Clearwater police headquarters where he was charged with first-degree murder. He is being held at the Pinellas County jail without bail.

The girl was originally moved to the care of a non-relative friend, but temporary custody has since been granted to the grandfather, according to another report by the Tampa Bay Times.

Mother claims woman was a "wonderful grandmother"

It remains unclear, however, who will be granted permanent custody of the child. Immediately following news of the murder, the girl's mother flew in from Maryland to fight for custody of her daughter.

While the mother did not speak about the murder specifically, she did explain why she originally thought awarding full custody of the child to the father was in the girl's best interests. The mother said that she was without a job or money when the original custody arrangement was agreed to and thought that the child would be better off with the father and grandmother, who the mother referred to as "a wonderful grandmother."

The mother claims she visited her daughter every couple of months and talked on the phone with her every night. She now believes that it is in the girl's best interests to move back with her to Maryland, but that she will stay in Florida for however long it takes for her to be awarded custody.

Child custody modification

While the above case is, fortunately, not something most Florida families have to contend with, many parents nonetheless do have experience trying to modify child custody agreements. When a parent or child's circumstances change a modification to the parent's child custody rights may be granted by a court.

Any parent seeking child custody or modification to an existing child custody and support agreement should consult with a qualified family law attorney. An experienced attorney can notify the client about parental rights in Florida pertaining to child custody and child support and can help map out a plan on how to reach a child custody agreement that is in the best interests of the child.