A 33-year-old woman was taken into custody in December 2013 on charges of allegedly kidnapping her two children, a 4-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy. On Jan. 14, the woman received a trial date of April 7. Her bond was set at $20,000. The father of the two children, who is a resident of Texas, was awarded custody of the children during the couple's divorce proceedings. The woman was taken into custody in New York after allegedly fleeing with the two children from Livingston County, Michigan, where the couple's divorce was finalized.
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.
Families challenged by children with mental illness may be interested in a trend occurring in Texas, Illinois and other states. Known as a psychiatric "lockout," it is the practice of parents who refuse to allow a child to return home or to make living provision for them when they are discharged from a mental health facility. Believing that their children will receive needed mental health care in state custody that they are financially unable to provide, parents relinquish custody of the child.
Parents in Texas and across the nation may be getting help with foreign custody battles if a new bill passes. Between 2008 and 2013, the federal government reported that 7,000 American children were abducted by one of their parents and taken overseas. The parents that remained in the U.S. battled for custody or visitation rights in countries where U.S. laws don't apply and an international treaty has been ignored. Most children never come back. Parents are often frustrated from trying to work with other nations and the U.S. State Department. Some in Congress want more attention placed on the problem of international child custody battles.
A Plano dad is dealing with an ongoing fight with his ex-fiancee in the country of England over the custody of his daughter, who is now 4 years old. He hasn't seen his daughter since she was a toddler.
Shortly after the Copperas Cove Police Department announced a suspected interference with a child custody case involving a missing child, the 2-year-old was returned to her grandparents. The toddler was taken from them by the biological mother on Oct. 23, but the grandparents had legal custody of the child.
Parents of college-bound children in Texas and elsewhere that seek financial aid are usually required to fill out a standardized application form that is used by most public colleges and universities. This form, known as FAFSA, requires certain financial disclosures to be made. However, some of the disclosures differ depending upon the marital status of the parents. In the case of divorced parents, Child custody plays a role, especially in terms of where the young person is deemed to reside.
A Dallas judge recently issued a controversial ruling, telling a lesbian couple that they must cease living together or one of the women would lose custody of her children. The case may raise equal protection issues, but actually can affect the lives of parents of any sexual orientation who wish to live with a partner prior to marriage. The couple has stated that they believe the order to be unconstitutional, but that they will follow it and establish separate residences.
Although high profile divorce cases often make the news in Texas, one celebrity has done his best to keep the particulars of his split quiet. But with an on-going child custody dispute between basketball star Dwyane Wade and his ex-wife, some details of the divorce are starting to emerge, suggesting that child custody is not the only issue over which the former couple is at odds. When the couple divorced last year, Wade was awarded custody of his two sons. His ex-wife was awarded visitation every other weekend. But she claims in a recent court filing that Wade is making it difficult for her to exercise her visitation rights. Her attorney cites one recent example when the woman traveled to Miami, where the children reside with Wade, only to be told when she arrived that the older boy, 11, was in Detroit for a basketball tournament. She is now seeking more time with her sons.
The courts in Texas and most other states tend to favor a biological parent's custody rights over those of a non-parent. If, however, the parent is shown to be unfit or if there is concern that the child's health and safety would be negatively impacted in the parent's care, custody may be awarded to someone other than the parent. In one recent child custody case, a court considered whether a mother's status as an illegal immigrant impacted her fitness as a parent. In a decision lauded by advocates for immigrant's rights, the court ruled that the mother's immigration status was not relevant to the issue of custody. The case involved a young mother, her four-year-old daughter, and her daughter's paternal grandparents. After the woman gave birth at age 17, she moved in with the parents of her 15-year-old boyfriend, the baby's father, where she remained for more than two years. In September 2011, following a fight with the grandmother, the mother moved out, taking the girl with her. The grandparents then filed a motion for emergency custody, arguing that the mother's status as an illegal immigrant precluded her ability to care for her daughter. The trial court agreed and awarded sole legal and physical custody to the girl's grandparents.