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Unfit Parenting: Mandated Reporters and the Safety of Florida’s Children

Are you involved in complex divorce litigation and worried about the safety of your children?

Are you a grandparent or other family member legitimately concerned about the custody of a minor child?

What Do I do?

Florida laws state that everyone is a mandated reporter. If you have a genuine fear that your child is being abused and neglected then the law says that you must report the incident to child services and/or the police department. To fully protect the child, you will need an experienced lawyer by your side to guide you through what can be a long and dramatic process.

The compassionate and results-driven attorney Robert M. Zakarin at the Law Offices of Robert M. Zakarin, PA. is ready to serve you in any way he can. He works with honesty and integrity to get you the results that you desire and to keep the child, or children, safe. Family law is something that he takes very seriously and to heart. He is there for you and your children.

Abuse and Neglect

Abuse can sometimes be hard to identify. Sometimes it can be so evident that it makes you sick. No matter how it seems, it’s a problem that must be addressed. Abuse and neglect of a child usually stem from a guardian who has lost the ability to make appropriate decisions, whether it is through mental illness, drug addiction, or for another reason.

Children are taken from their parents every day. The ideal situation is having someone who cares to look out for their best interests.

Essential Definitions

Child abuse is defined by the state of Florida in Statute Chapter 827: Section 3 as the intentional and malicious affliction of mental and/or physical abuse on a child. The abuse can be physical, sexual, and psychological and the health of the victim always suffers. This also covers anyone who encourages the abuse or witnesses it and doesn’t report the crime.

Neglect is also a form of abuse. Neglect refers to any caregiver who denies the child proper care, supervision, and services necessary to remain healthy and alive. This also includes nutrition, medicine, shelter, supervision, etc. Anyone who witnesses the abuse yet does not report it is guilty of neglect.

Many of these crimes are serious felonies and many children have died from lack of care. The safety of Florida’s children is at stake.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Abuse and neglect also occur if a child witnesses something that they shouldn’t. Has the child been present during a drug deal or an abusive episode between parents, for example?

Any child caught in the crossfire of either inappropriate situations or illegal happenings is considered abused and neglected by the state of Florida. At the same time, a parent who does not, for any reason, keep a clean and safe household for their children is also considered neglectful. Visible bugs, trash, or dangerous hoarding behaviors can be detrimental to a child.


What do you do if you suspect or find that the child has been abandoned? Statute Chapter 39: Section 1 of Florida law states that a child has been abandoned if the legal custodian of the child has left them without hope of return, does not contact the child for a certain length of time, and makes no provision for their upkeep.

For example, if your child drops off your grandchild and then never picks them up or contacts them again then the child has been abandoned. If you have at least partial custody of your minor child and the other guardian moves on and disappears, then the child has been abandoned. This is also a form of abuse and neglect.

But what can you do?

What You Can Do For The Children

Be honest and report exactly what you witness. Follow the process to the very end for the best results for the child. Lawyer up.

But no matter what, remember that a parent’s relationship to their child is sacred, abusive or not. The most important thing that you can do, whether you get custody of said children or just spend time with them, is to always be verbally judicious and supportive of the child’s parents. Condemn the behavior, not the person.

You can guide the child into separating a person’s behavior from the actual person themselves. You may also serve as an example of forgiveness and healing, which the child will need in the future as child abuse is not forgotten.

If you are given custody of the child in a divorce, it is considered abuse to speak negatively of the other parent in front of the child. This does not show that you approve of the transgressor’s behavior but that an actual person shouldn’t be wholly defined by their decisions, good or bad. Besides a safe place, it’s the second most important gift you can give them.

What the Law Offices of Ronald M. Zakarin Can Do For You

Robert M. Zakarin is practiced and effective in custody law specializing in domestic issues, injuries, and malpractice situations. His goal is to help his clients have the best possible futures and that goes double for the children. Mr. Zakarin’s skill is unsurpassed and his dedication and commitment to his clients make him one-of-a-kind.

Mr. Zakarin will fight aggressively to get you the best possible outcome. If you find yourself in a situation needing an experienced lawyer, contact him. He’s the best.