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Win for family facing child custody battle with state

For parents in Colorado or elsewhere, few things are more stressful than interaction with the state's child protective services department. While social workers do a great deal of good work for communities and families across the nation, there are instances in which they simply fail to get it right. That appears to be the case for one family where accusations of child abuse have led to a child custody case in which a father's parental rights were challenged.

The case began when a father was holding his 11-week-old baby daughter on his lap. When the child began to slide off, her father acted quickly to prevent her from hitting a nearby coffee table, stopping her slide by catching the baby's face. The family sought medical treatment to ensure that the baby was not harmed, and the medical staff found evidence of bleeding between the infant's brain and skull.

A doctor alerted social services, and law enforcement became involved. While one doctor asserted that the injuries were caused by an act of child abuse, medical experts later testified that the brain bleeds were caused by a vacuum extraction procedure used during the childbirth process. The father, a commercial pilot, was convicted on child abuse charges and is serving a one-year sentence in that case. He is appealing that decision and is being assisted by an organization that specializes in cases of false shaken baby syndrome accusations.  

In addition to the criminal case this family has had to go through, the father's parental rights were also challenged. However, in a recent hearing, a judge refused to terminate those rights, which is a child custody victory for a family who has been put through an incredible amount of stress over the past year. For parents in Colorado, this case serves as an example of the risk that lies in any interaction with a state child protective services department.

Source:, "Judge refuses to terminate parental rights of Joshua Burns", Heather Catallo, July 29, 2015

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