Most families who face a custody battle are in the midst of a divorce or breakup. That said, there are certain types of cases in which child custody disputes affect intact families, in Texas and across the nation. Such is the case for one family that has been put under enormous volumes of stress over the past year after a baby's father was accused of child abuse.
Their troubles began when their baby daughter was just 11 weeks old. Her father was holding her on his lap, and the baby began to slide out of position. In an effort to prevent the infant from falling off and striking a coffee table, the father reached out to grab her, catching her by the face. When the family sought medical attention to ensure that their daughter was unharmed, doctors discovered bleeding in the space between her brain and skull.
The authorities were notified, and the father was charged with child abuse. In court, a doctor testified that he believed that the father was responsible for the child's injuries. Medical experts gave testimony that conflicted with that assessment, asserting that the brain bleeds were the result of a vacuum extraction procedure used during the childbirth process. Despite that testimony, the father was convicted and is now serving a one-year sentence. That conviction is under appeal.
In a recent hearing, a family court judge refused to terminate the father's parental rights, and stated that it is in the best interests of the child to remain in the care of both parents. As of the time of this report, the father has not seen his daughter for nearly 500 days, and the family is relieved that they will soon be reunified. For readers in Texas and beyond, these criminal and child custody cases serve as an example of the dangers of running afoul of child protective services, and the need to mount a strong legal stance against any challenges to one's parental rights.
Source: wxyz.com, "Judge refuses to terminate parental rights of Joshua Burns", Heather Catallo, July 29, 2015