A dead, crack-smoking absentee dad may become the father a girl never had if a Broward judge decides to restore the man's parental rights.
The deadbeat dad, identified only as C.A. in court papers, lost those rights in a Broward court after his repeated drug use cost him dearly.
As he was in the process of appealing the judge's decision to take his daughter away, he was killed in a car accident.
But now an appeals court wants the judge who took away the parental rights to reinstate them, so that the girl might be able to draw a positive out of a very negative situation.
"Obviously, this case presents challenges that we haven't dealt with yet,'' Broward Circuit Judge John Frusciante told the Miami Herald. It was Frusciante's ruling that took the girl out of the custody of her troubled father.
The appeals court believes that it would be better for the girl to be recognized as C.A.'s daughter so that she can collect on any money that could be won in a wrongful-death lawsuit for the dad's estate.
C.A. hadn't lost parental rights to the girl's brother, who would be able to inherit any of his money.
The girl, now 13, and her brother, now 16, lived with their parents until the couple's cocaine addiction became too overwhelming. One of the children had even tested positive for the drug while in the care of their parents, according to the Herald.
"We want to do what is in the best interests of children," said Mary Cagle, an attorney with the Department of Children and Family. "When the father died, we stepped back to see what was in the best interests of these children."
The case is believed to be the first of its kind in Florida.