POLITICS

Charlie Crist’s wife regains joint custody of her daughters

 

Tampa Bay Times Political Editor

Former Florida First Lady Carole Crist has regained joint custody of her teenage daughters, her lawyer says, but contentious court fights with her ex-husband continue.

Carole Crist has had a rocky relationship with Todd Rome at least since 2007 when divorce proceedings began on their 14-year marriage.

While Charlie and Carole Crist were in India for an environmental summit earlier this year, a New York judge granted Rome full custody of the girls. Rome accuses her of having had no contact with their daughters, ages 14 and 16, in nearly two years.

Now Carole Crist’s lawyer says the order has been vacated by a New York court.

“This is a private matter for Mrs. Crist and her family about which she will not have any comment,” said Jonathan Wolfe, her New York attorney. “The order granting Mr. Rome temporary sole custody was obtained without any notice and has now been vacated by the Court. Mrs. Crist cares deeply about her daughters and looks forward to amicably resolving any remaining issues for their benefit.”

The court records in New York are sealed, so the custody status of the children could not be independently verified.

Rome, 44, said the matter is not over.

“It’s still being fought,” said Rome, owner of the private jet charter company Blue Star Jets. He remarried in 2008, a few months before the Crists’ wedding.

The girls live with their father in New York. The Crists live in St. Petersburg. While Carole Crist, 43, used to visit them regularly, Rome said she has not spoken to or seen them since June 2011.

A lifelong Republican now registered as a Democrat, Charlie Crist, 56, is considering running for governor against Rick Scott in 2014. Personal likability has long been one of Crist’s strongest political assets, and the public attacks on Carole Crist’s parenting by her ex-husband could prove to be an awkward side issue in a tough political campaign.

Carole Crist’s daughters lived with her in Fisher Island starting in 2006, according to Florida court records, but they moved back to New York City after their mother married then-Gov. Crist in December 2008. They spent considerable time with the Crists in Florida after that, but contact with their mother halted in 2011, according to Rome.

Crist had previously gushed about his step-daughters, but has avoided any comment about Rome or the custody dispute. He did not respond to requests for comment last month when Rome was temporarily granted full custody. And this week he did not respond to a phone call or text message.

Contact Adam C. Smith at asmith@tampabay.com.

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