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Church Service Disrupted by Police Due to Child Custody Battle

Pensacola police interrupted Sunday service at the Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, just prior to the sacrament of Communion, to execute a court order and take a teenager into custody. According to USA Today news report, officer Meghan Darling went over to the church with the father of the child in an attempt to peacefully obtain the child. Video of the incident has been posted on social media, and has been shared almost 2,000 times and liked by more than 80,000. The 13-year-old girl was in church with her grandparents, one of whom is the church’s pastor, Reverend Freddie Tellis. The custody order was issued in July and Rev. Tellis had allegedly communicated with law enforcement since and informed them he would surrender his granddaughter if the officers came for her.

This is a direct representation of the legal ramifications that may arise if a Florida child custody order is violated by one or both parents. As such, pursuing a better understanding of custody laws is necessary if you have a child custody arrangement in the state of Florida.

Child Custody Laws

While child custody laws vary from state to state, Florida’s custody laws are in line with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJE). Generally, courts are not in favor of awarding sole custody to a parent (it is rarely granted) particularly because biological parents have a right to seek child visitation or child custody. Under present law, judges will consider the facts of the particular case and give equal consideration to the mother and the father when determining child custody. Generally, parental responsibility will be shared equally regardless of which parent has actual, physical custody of the child.

The ruling doctrine in family law is the best interest of the child. When making this determination the court will consider the following:

  • Which parent will facilitate an environment where the child has frequent and ongoing contact with the other parent;
  • Which parent will avoid informing the child of any ongoing legal action involving the other parent;
  • The child’s relationship with each parent, including emotional connection and overt signs of love and affection;
  • The ability and willingness of each parent to provide the child’s basic necessities (i.e. food, medical care, clothing, shelter, etc.);
  • If the child has developmental needs, or is involved in extra curricular activities, the ability of each parent to satisfy them; and
  • The moral fitness, as well as the physical and mental health of each parent.

The court may also consider any other circumstance or evidence that it may deem relevant.

Orlando Child Custody Attorney

If you or someone you know is facing child custody issues with a former spouse – or a soon-to-be ex-spouse, contact the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A. Divorce is hard enough; make sure you have a sympathetic, yet aggressive attorney on your side. Call 407-521-7171 to schedule your initial consultation.

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