In child abduction cases, where the motivation of the abductor is known, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (the “FBI”) reports that custodial-motivated abductions have increased from 9 percent in 2010 to 50 percent in 2012. The trend seems to be increasing: the FBI has received 25 reported abductions since October of last year. To be clear, these are cases in which a son or daughter is taken against the will of the child and the custodial parent. What is even more troubling is the FBI’s theory that most non-custodial parents want retaliation against the custodial parent and often resort to threats of harm against the child. Anyone who is involved in a child custody dispute should consult with an experienced San Diego family law attorney as soon as possible.
Child abduction is a serious matter, even when a family member is involved. Children most at risk of being abducted by the non-custodial parent are those age three and younger — whose parents were never married or are divorced. As the FBI suggests, some non-custodial parents feel that if they cannot be with the child all of the time or possibly even none of the time, then the other parent should not be able to either. When a non-custodial parent abducts a child, it is impossible to know whether they intend to harm the child or not.
In a recent California abduction case, a San Francisco father was sentenced to three years in jail for abducting his two young children and taking them away on a yacht that he stole from a nearby marina. As we reported in an earlier blog post on the story, the dad, Christopher Maffei, took his two children, ages two and three, from their home in September and brought them on the 41-foot yacht. At the time of the abduction, the children had been staying with their grandmother, while their mother was at court getting a restraining order against him. Maffei and the children spent three days on the boat before running out of fuel. He surrendered when the authorities caught up with him. Fortunately, the children were unharmed.
This past April, Maffei pleaded no contest to one count of possession of a stolen boat and one count of child abduction. Based on the FBI’s statistics, these children were lucky. In comparison to international abductions, the FBI suggests that domestic custodial abductions are more likely to have violent outcomes as far as the children are concerned. The FBI offers the following tip to keep children safe from non-custodial parental abduction: custodial parents must notify schools, babysitters, and anyone else who is responsible for the well being of the children as to the custody agreements, so that they are not mistakenly released to non-custodial parents.
Child custody disputes can be emotional and stressful for the parents and children involved. It is understandable that both parents want to spend as much time with their children as possible. In order to best protect your rights and interests in any custody matter, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney who fully understands the process.
Parents with questions about child custody matters 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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