Back in September, news broke that 43 year-old Christopher Maffei kidnapped his two young children, a two year-old son and a three year-old daughter, and sailed away with them on a stolen yacht under the Golden Gate Bridge. According to a San Mateo Daily Journal news article, Maffei forcibly took the children from their grandmother, while their mother was at court getting a restraining order against him. Child custody cases in San Diego run the gamut from mildly contentious to severely antagonistic, sometimes resulting in criminal behavior by one or both parents. In order to protect your rights in a child custody matter, it is imperative that you contact an experienced, local family law attorney.
Prior to being apprehended, Maffei had sailed along the Northern California Coast with his two children. He surrendered without incident once the authorities caught up with him. The children were unharmed. While in court, Maffei said that his kids were not in any danger with him and that they were having a great time on the sailboat. He also told a San Mateo County Judge that he took the children in an effort to protect them from an abusive home. The mother (and Maffei’s ex-girlfriend) has refuted the abuse claims, noting that Maffei never attempted to report his allegations to the appropriate authorities.
Maffei has been charged with assorted felonies, including first-degree burglary, kidnapping, taking a child from a lawful custodian, child endangerment and possessing a stolen motor vehicle. He pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. In a recent development, after a preliminary hearing, the judge ruled that there is enough evidence to try Maffei on all counts, and denied a request to reduce the felonies to misdemeanors. At this point, Maffei remains in custody, with bail raised from $200,000 to $500,000. The case has been set for a jury trial on May 28.
The San Mateo Daily Journal reported that during an interview conducted while Maffei was in jail, he admitted that it was crazy to steal the 41-foot sailboat but said it was not crazy of him to take the kids. Of course, a judge and the children’s mother would see it differently.
After this shocking incident, the children’s mother went to court and was granted a temporary restraining order as well as a court order granting her full custody, with no visitation rights for Maffei. One of the significant developments early on in this case was the simultaneous efforts on behalf of both parents: the mother was in the process of seeking a restraining order against the father, while he was allegedly kidnapping the children. We will await the trial for further developments.
Child custody and related visitation matters and can be fraught with animosity and sometimes irrational conduct. It takes an experienced San Diego attorney to help protect a parent’s rights under the unique circumstances of the case.
If you are a parent with questions about child custody and visitation matters, you are encouraged to contact Doppelt & Forney. Mr. Doppelt is a knowledgeable family law attorney with more than 20 years of experience representing parents in Southern California. Doppelt & Forney serves clients in Linda Vista, Encinitas, Scripps Ranch, San Diego, and throughout Southern California. For a free consultation with a dedicated and experienced family lawyer, contact Doppelt & Forney through the law firm’s website or give us a call toll-free at (800) ROY IS IT (769-4748).
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