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Court rules in custody case where both parents kidnapped girl

Many parents in Florida have had to deal with an international child custody dispute. These cases typically involve a parent taking their child to another country, in violation of a court-ordered child custody or visitation plan and over the objections of the other parent.

The custody laws of the countries involved can differ, and orders from a U.S. court may not be honored where the child is currently living. Thus, international custody cases can be complex and take a long time to resolve, though many determined parents have had their kids returned to them.

It is quite rare for both parents to be accused of kidnapping their child, but that was what happened in a case outside of Florida that reached the state Supreme Court. In June, the Court ruled on a relatively technical matter. The justices found that the child’s constitutional rights were not violated when she was not allowed at a custody hearing as a teenager.

The story of the parents’ fight over their daughter is long. The girl was around three when her parents began divorce proceedings. Her father took her and left the state. Authorities later found them in Florida, where the father had apparently been making plans to flee to Costa Rica.

The divorce took two more years to complete. Despite the earlier kidnapping, the father was granted visitation time with the daughter. Possibly unwilling to obey the time sharing order, the mother fled to Russia with the girl.

A year later, men entered her home and kidnapped the girl, then 6. The FBI believes that the father was behind the abduction. She was later rescued, and she and her mother returned to the U.S., where her parents continued to fight over custody of her.

Hopefully, few Florida residents will ever have to spend years in a custody battle as complicated as this one. Still, parents who wish to assert their rights in a custody dispute likely need an attorney on their side.

Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Fake documents, stack of cash and foreign abduction set stage for Ohio Supreme Court,” Robert Higgs, June 19, 2014

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