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Lakeville man denied child custody rights after summer incident

Last summer, an 11-year-old boy was left unattended by his father who subsequently lost his child custody rights. The father drove to California in July, abandoning his son at his Lakeville home. He was arrested upon arrival and sent back to Minnesota to face gross misdemeanor charges of child neglect.

The father seemed to panic at his financial situation last summer, as he was drawing on retirement funds and unemployment checks to provide for his son. The former architect finally hit rock bottom, writing a letter to his neighbors saying he was leaving and that they should watch over him - seemingly, and unofficially, handing child custody over to the neighbors. The boy has since lived with those neighbors and with his great aunt through foster care.

A Dakota County judge has denied the father's request to have the boy removed from the care of his great aunt. The man has completed the proper social service requirements to see his son and the great aunt's house is overcrowded and has unsafe conditions, the father's attorney said. The judge said that the boy "seems to know exactly what he wants" and that "he has a great deal of anger towards his father," indicating that the 11-year-old is happy with his great aunt.

The father was given full child custody of the 11-year-old back in 2002, when the boy's mother lost visitation rights. More hearings in this case are scheduled for February, while the father will face his criminal charges on January 22.

Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press, "Judge denies Lakeville dad's request to have son he left removed from foster home," Jessica Fleming, 1/11/12

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