Judge Jeri B. Cohen has decided that Rafael Izquierdo is a "non-offending" parent. The term seems to be most used in cases where child-abuse has been alleged, but where the parent is found innocent of such charges. According to a 2006 article [PDF] in the Michigan Bar Journal, non-offending parents in the US currently face difficult custody battles in our court system.
Judge Cohen has also determined that Izquierdo can regain custody of the child once a home study is completed, and provided that no court objects. But, there will be an objection.
Izquierdo's lawyer, Ira Kurban, told reporters today:
"We are grateful that justice has finally been done. We have said all along that the state of Florida never had a case against Rafael Izquierdo. This was always about the politics of the state of Florida versus Cuba and we are delighted that the judge has seen through all that and has made a just and fair decision.
"We believe that the decision requires that this child be returned to her father immediately. He's a non-offending father. The judge found that today. He is a fit father. The facts found that in this case and he deserves to have his child back. And we call upon the Cubas Family to give it up, to stop keeping a child that is not theirs. They are not family. They are not related to this child. And the appropriate action is to turn this child over to her natural father."
A Miami Herald poll shows that (as of 4pm), from 348 votes, 56% of readers think the child in dispute should return to Cuba with her father, and 44% percent believe the child should remain with the Cubas Family.