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Dead father may get custodial rights

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., July 28 (UPI) -- A Florida court is being asked for the first time to give custodial rights of a child to a father who is dead, experts say.

A decision by a Broward County, Florida, judge to strip a father of his parental rights to his pre-teen daughter because he was a crack addict is being appealed after the man, identified only as C.A., was killed by a hit and-run driver, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

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A state appellate court is now considering that it might be in best interests of the child to retain her ties to her dead father because his estate could be in line for a large legal settlement, child welfare advocates say.

"I have never seen either the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, or its successor, the Department of Children and Families, terminate parental rights and then reverse themselves," and certainly not after a parent has died, Paolo Annino, director of the Public Interest Law Center at Florida State University, told the Herald.

"We want to do what is in the best interests of children," added Mary Cagle, DCF's top child welfare attorney. "When the father died, we stepped back to see what was in the best interests of these children."

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