Child Custody Disputes Can Turn Violent

Getting a divorce can be a very challenging and stressful time. For some couples, a divorce is truly the end- the exes will no longer see or speak to each other, instead moving on to lead separate lives. But when there are children involved, a divorced parent is never truly “done” with their ex. Depending on the custody agreement, there may be regular meet-ups to hand over the children, discussions to figure out holiday plans, and important events in the child’s life that both parents must attend. In a perfect world, both exes would be civil and put any bitter feelings aside for the benefit of their child. In the real world, hurt feelings and resentment towards an ex-spouse may get in the way. Sometimes, the anger that builds up can erupt in a violent outburst, like two recent incidents that occurred in Southern Florida.

In Tampa, a tragic murder-suicide occurred outside a restaurant after ex-husband Guillermo Garcia returned his 7-year-old son to the child’s mother’s care. The young boy had to witness his father shoot his mother, then watched as his father committed suicide.

Another chilling account of child custody related domestic violence occurred outside of a Boynton Beach 7-Eleven when Naomie Breton showed up to pick up her 4-year-old son from her ex. The child’s father, Roosevelt Mondesir, doused Breton with gasoline and set her on fire. Breton survived, but was seriously burned. Luckily, Mondesir did not have the 4-year-old with him at the time.

Paul Peluso, a couples therapist and professor at Florida Atlantic University, says, “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. It is so difficult to predict . . . what will cause people to act out irrationally and tragically.” Peluso added that tough economic times can increase tensions that may drive an ex-spouse to snap.

If you are planning a divorce or are going through a child custody battle with your ex, seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney who will assist you every step of the way.

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