One of a parent’s worst nightmares is the abduction of his or her child. According to news reports, an Orange County dad was recently reunited with his son after the mom took the child to Africa four years ago. At the time of the parental abduction, the couple had been divorced and shared joint custody of the child. By taking the child out of the country, against the wishes of his father, the mother violated the child custody arrangement. Child custody disputes are often the most hotly contested issues in any divorce proceeding. An experienced family law attorney in the San Diego area can help guide parents through the complicated and emotionally trying experience.
The couple divorced in 2008. The following year, the mom lost her job and was living in California with an expired visa. After advising the court that she planned to return to Zambia, the court issued an order prohibiting her from taking the child out of the country. She allegedly ignored the order and took the child to Zambia in December 2009 during her weekend visitation. The father alleges that his ex-wife falsified a passport in order to take their son from California to Zambia. He reported the abduction to the Cypress Police Department in December 2009. The situation became even worse when the dad found out that Zambia is not a signatory to any international treaty that could help him get his son back home. In fact, in Zambia, parental abduction is not against the law.
Once the authorities investigated the case, a family court awarded full custody to the child’s father. In a fortuitous turn of events, the FBI discovered that the child and his grandmother had traveled to the Netherlands this past July to visit the boy’s uncle, a professional soccer player. The father obtained court orders from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and from the state department, and traveled to the Netherlands to get his son back. Although it took the Netherland court system three months to sort through the proceedings, the boy and his father have been reunited and are now back in California.
A child custody order has the full force of the law behind it. Parents should keep a copy of the most recent court order in a safe and easily accessible location. Anyone else who is involved in the visitation order should also have a copy. Another important tip is to make sure that the child custody order clearly sets forth the details of visitation, because disputes may arise as to which parent is entitled to spend various holidays, vacations and birthdays with the children. Finally, since custody orders tend to need updating every two to three years, parents should be sure to get a new court order if and when the details change.
It can be very frightening when one parent does not adhere to a child custody order. The other parent may seek help from a few different sources, such as the local police department and district attorney’s office. For any child custody matter, you are encouraged to reach out to a local, experienced family law attorney who can help to protect and preserve your family’s rights.
Parents with questions about child custody matters may 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 consultation with a dedicated 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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