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Anger can explode at child custody hand-overs PDF Print E-mail
(1 Vote)
Written by Mike Clary, Sun Sentinel   

For couples who have fallen out of love, sharing a child when they can no longer share a life is never easy. And it is occasionally explosive.

In recent weeks, the volatile dynamic of child custody cases has triggered several violent eruptions in South Florida, including a murder-suicide involving a Pembroke Pines man and the torching of a Boynton Beach woman doused with gasoline and set on fire by an ex-boyfriend.

Both incidents took place in public places selected for the hand-over of a child from one parent to the other.

"Emotions are always raw in a custody dispute," said S. Andrew Foster, who practices family law in Cooper City. "You can't anticipate everything a person will do, even if you have known them for decades.

"My advice is to be vigilant. And get the police involved if there is a hint of trouble. It is better to be embarrassed than injured."

After a contentious divorce or separation, the moment when a parent gives up a child or children to the custody of another can be particularly fraught with dangers, say experts. "If one person feels he came up short in the separation, he may feel that handing the child over is continuing to admit defeat by the other parent," said Paul Peluso, a couples therapist and professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

There is no statistical evidence that there has been an increase in domestic violence associated with sharing custody of a child in South Florida. But Pelsuo said that tough economic times can increase tensions that can spark such outbursts.

"The biggest problem for clinicians and courts is where to draw the line between parents who are so upset at the dissolving of the family that even those you think would never harm the child or partner act out," said Peluso. "It is so difficult to predict . . . what will cause people to act out irrationally and tragically."

Susan Fradin, a supervisor for the Broward Guardian ad Litem program, also cited the economy as a possible contributing factor in cases of domestic violence associated with child custody.

"It is hard to say what goes through the mind of someone who is angry and unhappy with the situation that brought them up to the point where custody is shared," she said. "People snap for a myriad of reason. But children can be the victims."

Tragedy describes what happened Friday outside a Tampa restaurant after Guillermo Garcia, 38, of Pembroke Pines, turned over his 7-year-old son to the child's mother, Okariny Diaz. After the boy got into his mother's van, Garcia opened fire with a handgun, killing her in front of the boy and several others before shooting himself in the head, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff's detectives.

And last week, in a horrific attack caught on surveillance video, Naomie Breton was set on fire and seriously burned when she showed up for a 3 a.m. meeting outside a 7-Eleven in Boynton Beach to pick up her 4-year-old son from his father, Roosevelt Mondesir. The child was not with Mondesir — now in jail — when she was attacked.

 



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