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Young girl may return home despite Massachusetts custody battle

Most child custody cases involve families that are going through a divorce or separation, but the issue of custody can also crop up when there are allegations of abuse or neglect. Parents of a teenage girl are caught in such a situation and are still fighting to have their daughter returned to them after more than a year.

The parents had taken their daughter to the Boston Children's Hospital for treatment of her mitochondrial disease, which she had been previously diagnosed with and had received treatment for. Doctors at the hospital disagreed with the diagnosis and insisted that the girl was suffering from a psychiatric disorder instead. When the parents tried to have their daughter discharged so that they could transfer her to Tufts Medical Center, the state's Department of Children and Families became involved in the case. The parents were subsequently accused of medical child abuse.

This kicked off what was to become a long and emotional legal battle over child custody that has lasted for more than a year. The case was recently heard in Boston juvenile court, and a judge awarded permanent custody of the girl to the state's Department of Children and Families.

Despite the court's ruling, the Health and Human Services secretary is publicly advocating on the family's behalf and wants to see the girl returned home to her family in her hometown. While he stopped short of saying that the court erred in its decision, he made it very clear that DCF is powerless to return legal custody of the girl to the parents.

Cases such as this where one medical institution disagrees with the diagnosis of another can be extremely difficult, especially when there is a set of loving parents involved who only want to see their child get the best treatment possible. Navigating the legal system in cases like this requires professional legal counsel in order to ensure that the best interests of the child are kept at the forefront of the case.

Source: The Blaze, "Massachusetts Health Official: Justina Pelletier Should Return to Home State As Soon As Possible" Liz Klimas, Apr. 25, 2014

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