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Child custody an issue in Florida congressman's divorce

Divorce is never easy. It becomes particularly difficult when it's a high-profile divorce. Having the public watch an intensely private, personal matter play out in the news is tough on the parties involved. Such is the case with a Florida Democratic congressman whose wife of 23 years recently filed for divorce.

This case could have child custody issues, as the couple has five children ages 8 to 18. Child support will likely play a factor in this divorce, as will custody and visitation. It isn't guaranteed that the wife will receive automatic custody of the children, since Florida law treats the husband and wife alike in such cases. Joint custody is the usual outcome, but extenuating circumstances could see either individual be appointed as the primary guardian of the children.

The divorce filing comes on the heels of both a prior separation between the couple and a financial setback where the congressman was the victim of investment fraud. That setback cost him $18 million, and the fraud case he has against the perpetrator is ongoing. It is unclear whether the emotional burden of the $18 million loss had anything to do with the couple's separation and subsequent divorce filing, or if other issues also came into play in the breakup of their marriage. A representative for the congressman's office has only said that his primary concern is the well-being of his children.

While divorce is hard, it may be the right thing to do. When both parties are aware of this, the divorce can be a positive step in their relationship, and can be done amicably in a way that allows the divorcing spouses to remain friends. This is the best way to approach divorce in any case, but especially when children are involved. When the children's interests are put first, the divorce can be a healthy step forward for the whole family.

Source: Reuters, "Florida Congressman's Wife Seeks Divorce," Barbara Liston, Jan. 7, 2014

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