A mother was recently sentenced to five years of probation and 100 hours of community service after she pleaded no contest to child custody deprivation in Los Angeles Superior Court. 35-year-old Jennifer Lopez DeJongh was accused of depriving the grandparents of the children, Representative Gary Miller and his wife, Cathy, of their custody and visitation rights when she took her three sons to Mexico for a period of more than three years. The woman’s current husband, 29-year-old George DeJongh reportedly received the same sentence.
Jennifer DeJongh was previously married to Representative Miller’s son, Brian. When they divorced, the former couple allegedly became locked in a heated child custody dispute. Throughout divorce proceedings, DeJongh alleged that the boys’ father molested and otherwise abused them. Just hours after the mother signed an order granting temporary custody of the three boys to the congressman and his wife, DeJongh and her new husband reportedly fled to Mexico with them. In August 2011, the family was discovered by local authorities and returned to the United States.
Although the DeJonghs pleaded no contest, they reportedly plan to appeal Judge Lance Ito’s ruling. According to the couple’s criminal defense attorney, their plea was entered in order to protect the three boys from being required to testify in the case. For now, DeJongh’s sons are in the care of their paternal grandparents. Their mother was, however, recently granted supervised visitation rights.
Even under the best of circumstances, child custody disagreements can arise without warning. Oftentimes, divorces that involve child custody and visitation questions are less than amicable. In the State of California, a number of factors play a role in child custody decisions. Although California parents normally share custody of their children, this is not always possible. The best interests of a couple’s child sometimes dictate that neither parent retains custody. Factors that can play a role in California custody decisions include the child’s physical and mental health, his or her age, the overall lifestyle of each parent, any history of physical, sexual, or drug abuse, parent-child emotional bonds, and each parent’s ability to care and provide for the child. Other factors will also be examined by a California judge.
Who will care for a couple’s children following divorce is often an emotional topic. If you are a parent who has questions regarding child custody and visitation matters, please do not hesitate to contact Doppelt and Forney, APLC today. Mr. Doppelt is a knowledgeable Scripps Ranch family law attorney who has more than 20 years of experience representing parents in Southern California. Doppelt and Forney, APLC serves clients in Scripps Ranch, Linda Vista, Encinitas, San Diego, and throughout Southern California. For a free consultation with a dedicated family lawyer, contact Doppelt and Forney, APLC through the law firm’s website or give us a call toll-free at (800) ROY IS IT (769-4748).
California Watches as Arizona Judge Considers Whether to Allow So-Called ‘Pregnant Man’ and Wife to Divorce, San Diego Divorce Lawyer Blog, December 18, 2012
Paternity Cases in San Diego in 2012, San Diego Divorce Lawyer Blog, December 14, 2012
Congressman’s Former Daughter-in-law Pleads No Contest to Child Deprivation, by City News Service, Claremont-Laverne Patch
Mother accused in abduction of congressman’s grandsons details life on the run, by Frank C. Girardot, Pasadena Star-News