Child custody battles, like those that take place in Florida courtrooms, often leave one parent unhappy with the outcome. While this feeling is common at first, most parents eventually accept the child custody arrangement. Recently, one mother refused to accept the court´s decision concerning her son´s time with his father, and she now faces criminal charges.
On Jan. 24, the father of a 3-year-old dropped his son off at the child´s mother´s residence with the understanding that he would pick him up again on Jan. 28. When the father arrived four days later to retrieve the child, the residence was empty, and an eviction notice was posted on the door. For obvious reasons, this alarmed the child´s father, and he notified local authorities after he was unable to contact his ex-partner.
As it turns out, the child´s mother -- unhappy with the child custody agreement -- had left not only her residence, but the entire state. The search for the mother and son ended up involving both the U.S. Marshalls and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Finally, in early May, the mother returned, with her child, to her hometown and turned herself in to the authorities.
The mother has been charged with interfering with child custody and faces serious penalties. She could be made to serve up to 12-1/2 years in prison and to pay up to $25,000 in fines if she is convicted. She is also not allowed to have any contact with her son or with her son´s father.
Thankfully, a child custody disagreement on this scale is rarely seen in Florida. This particular case may act as a reminder of how important it is to have a solid parenting plan and to resolve any issues in the courtroom. Last, but not least, it is a tale that may also remind parents to put their child and his or her needs ahead of their own.