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State seizes child custody of girl, alleges medical child abuse

Most Minnesota residents who think about child custody disputes probably imagine those disagreements within the context of a family court. Would you believe, though, that a state can actually seize child custody from parents who are trying to provide medical care for their son or daughter? That is exactly what has happened to one East Coast family, as the state of Massachusetts has been awarded permanent custody of a 15-year-old girl because of alleged medical abuse.

Official reports show that a judge in the state granted custody to the Department of Children and Families after a dispute about the girl's medical care. The child's parents had been seeking help for a rare mitochondrial disorder at nearby Tufts Medical Center. Physicians at Boston Children's Hospital asserted that the child's medical problems were largely psychological. That girl had been experiencing difficulty with eating and walking, among other issues.

The child was removed from her parents' custody when physicians at Boston Children's Hospital accused the family of medical child abuse. The girl has been kept at that hospital in a locked psychiatric ward for about a year. She has now been moved to a residential facility in Framingham, Massachusetts. The girl's parents live in Connecticut, and DCF representatives say they are working to identify options that would allow the girl to return home.

The parents in this case are now charged with proving that they are fit caregivers. This process is similar to many other child custody cases, in which one parent must demonstrate the ability to care for one's children. A Minnesota family attorney may be able to help parents who are struggling through their own difficulties in reaching a child custody agreement.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Mass. granted permanent custody of Justina Pelletier" Patricia Wen, Mar. 25, 2014

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