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Ex-fiancé of missing woman reunited with children

In situations involving conflict between parents, such as a divorce or custody battle, children often experience distress, even when the parents say they want what's best for them. Sometimes a family conflict rises to a level where the government intervenes, making it even harder for children to feel comfortable and stable.

A man whose children were taken were taken away from him in connection to the disappearance of their mother has since reunited with them. The man is the prime suspect in the disappearance of his ex-fiancé, who has been missing since the middle of November. She disappeared after dropping off the former couple's 3-year-old twins at their father's house. It was the same day an episode of "The People's Court" featuring the parents aired on TV. Since that day, the twins had stayed with their father and his parents.

But the day after the man was named as the prime suspect, the Florida Department of Children and Families removed the children from his home. An attorney for that department said the man had displayed criminal and abusive behavior several times, even striking his ex-fiancé in front of the children two years ago. But a judge later disagreed, saying there was no evidence the man had harmed his own children.

The missing woman's family has been cooperative with the father, saying they want to work with him and his attorneys to determine what's best for the children. After an emergency custody hearing in Juvenile Court, the woman's mother hugged the father and said she was eager to help come up with a plan allowing her to visit her grandchildren.

The couple's relationship was undoubtedly troubled. Their televised court appearance centered on a dispute over an expensive engagement ring, and the mother alleged her ex-fiancé has a drinking problem and was violent toward her. The investigation into her disappearance continues, but the man says he remains devoted to his children, taking care of them and continuing to pay child support. Amid all of the conflict, both sides of the family appear committed to doing what's best for the children.

Source: MSNBC.com, "Kids returned to dad in TV-show disappearance case," Nov. 30, 2011

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