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Abducted boys return to their fathers after 18 months overseas

When handling shared custody issues, families in Texas and other states should consider how children are affected if one parent ignores an established arrangement. On Dec. 28, two California fathers were finally reunited with their abducted sons more than 18 months after the mother refused to return home from a court-authorized visit to Europe. After filing child concealment claims, the fathers were granted sole child custody by a U.S. court, and FBI officials secured an international warrant for the mother's arrest.

The 32-year-old Slovakian woman was arrested in France where the two boys, ages 4 and 10, attended school. The mother was legally permitted to travel to Slovakia and the Czech Republic for one month during the summer of 2012. According to reports, she made excuses to avoid coming back as planned and instead traveled to Germany and France, eventually giving her sons fake identities and enrolling them in a French school.

In defense of her actions, the mother claimed her younger son had experienced violence in her ex-husband's care. A French court found no grounds to support her accusations and expressed concern that the children were endangered by missing school and wandering without a permanent home. The children both returned to America with their fathers, and Los Angeles officials are attempting the extradition of the mother.

If tried for kidnapping in the U.S., the woman will face felony child detention charges, which may come with a six-year prison sentence. International abductions can interrupt children's stable lives and infringe on parental rights. Working with family law professionals may ease the stress of negotiating mutually beneficial parenting plans that protect the best interests of the child.

Source: Huffington Post, "Fathers Reunited With Their Kids 18 Months After Kidnapping", Brenda Gazzar, December 30, 2013

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