Articles Posted in Kidnapping/Abduction

With close connections, both culturally and economically, to the Caribbean, Central America, South America and beyond, South Florida is a truly international region. The impacts of that are felt in many areas, including in family law. For areas (like here) where family law disputes cross not just state but national boundaries, it is essential to have a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney who understands all of the laws that go along with child custody cases, including international custody cases.

One of the most important pieces of law when it comes to certain international custody disputes is something called the “Hague Convention.” While that treaty officially covers the topic of “international child abduction,” its effect on family law goes beyond just kidnapping cases. It also has the ability to impact a substantial array of child custody disagreements.

That treaty had a major impact on one Brazilian couple’s custody dispute, which was recently litigated here in Florida. The parents had married in Brazil in 2010 and welcomed a child in 2012. In 2016, the father, the child and the mother (who was pregnant with child #2) traveled to Florida so the father could advance his medical career by participating in a cardiology fellowship, and so the mother could deliver the second child in the United States.

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On April 10, 2013, a couple accused of kidnapping their own children were arrested in Tampa after having been returned to the U.S. by Cuban authorities.The couple had officially lost custody of their two young boys on April 2. Last year, police found the couple at a hotel in Slidell, Louisiana, acting abnormally, claiming to be “contemplating their ultimate journey” and discussing the Armageddon. Upon further investigation, the couple was found to be in possession of weapons and narcotics. At that point the children, ages 2 and 4, were removed from the couple’s care and placed in foster care under CPS (Child Protective Services). The father spent the next week in jail and then, upon his release, visited the foster home his children were taken to and demanded them back at gunpoint.

The family’s flight to Cuba began after the Lousiana Family Court gave permanent custody of the boys to the father’s parents. The day after the ruling, the father went to his parents’ home in Tampa and kidnapped the children after tying up his own mother. The parents had their escape planned, and in the days leading up to the kidnapping, they purchased a 25-foot sailboat, the seller of which later tipped off authorities regarding the parents’ plan. The father, his wife, and the two boys then proceeded to sail to Cuba. The couple arrived at the Marina Hemingway, a facility slightly west of Havana.

Upon the parents’ arrival, Cuban authorities informed the U.S. State Department of the family’s presence on the island. After such information was passed on, “constant communication” was maintained between U.S. officials and the Cuban Foreign Ministry. This level of contact, concern, and communication was an important step for U.S.-Cuba relations as there does not exist any sort of extradition agreement between the countries.

Law enforcement officers retrieved the family and brought them back to the U.S., where the father is currently facing a slew of criminal charges, including two counts of kidnapping, child neglect, false imprisonment, interference with child custody, and others. The grandparents have expressed deep appreciation for how the operation was handled, and have welcomed the young boys back.

The Law Office of Sandy T. Fox can guide you through a safe and effective resolution of your child custody issues. Studies estimate there are nearly 1,000 within-family kidnappings per day in the U.S. In these cases, there is roughly a 50 percent chance that the kidnapping will be committed by the mother or father.

Parental kidnapping is a traumatic event for the children and the custodial guardians, often resulting in long term emotional harm for all parties involved, and in some instances physical harm. State legislation (Florida Statute 61.45 & the Florida Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act) and federal legislation (the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980 & the International Child Abduction Remedies Act) have extended the degree of preventive measures and applicable punishment for those engaging in parental kidnapping. It is important to operate through the family court for any custodial issues you wish to dispute, whether you feel you deserve a higher degree of custody, or you don’t believe the person with custody should have such responsibility.
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Yesterday, a judge in Miami-Dade’s Family Court lifted an emergency protection order that forbade a 22-year-old father from seeing his 3-year-old daughter. The father is currently engaged in a custody battle with the child’s mother, a Venezuelan national who reportedly accused him of kidnapping their daughter in March 2011. She allegedly filed a missing persons report on the child before returning to Venezuela to give birth to another baby. It is currently unclear whether she ever intends to return to the United States.

In February, the father was reportedly arrested in Pensacola and returned to Miami-Dade on interfering with child custody charges. He was released from jail on Wednesday. His mother was also reportedly arrested for interfering with child custody after she brought the child to court last month in order to demonstrate she was not missing and was being well cared for. Last Monday, a Miami-Dade judge dismissed both interfering with custody charges.

According to the man’s mother, she and her husband had custody of the child at the time the child’s mother reported her missing. The child’s mother allegedly accused the child’s father of child abuse, child neglect, and domestic violence as well as kidnapping. A home study of the grandmother’s residence reportedly revealed no environmental hazards, no evidence of abuse, and stated the child was happy. Following the home study, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman granted temporary custody of the child to the grandparents. Permanent custody of the child will not be resolved until the child’s mother returns from Venezuela.

To many parents, the question of who will retain custody of your children following a separation or divorce is an emotional one. Since October 2008, child custody arrangements in Florida have been referred to as time-sharing schedules. A time-sharing agreement generally outlines the amount of time a child will spend with each parent, including overnights, weekends, school breaks, and holidays. If parents cannot come to an agreement regarding a time-sharing plan, one will be ordered by a family court. A Florida family court will normally examine the moral fitness of the parents, any evidence of abuse, and a variety of other statutory factors when creating a time-sharing schedule. Because a Florida parent who wishes to modify a time-sharing plan must show substantially changed circumstances, modifying a time-sharing plan can be difficult. If you are a Florida parent who would like to establish or modify your child’s time-sharing plan, it is a good idea to contact a skilled family law lawyer to assist you.
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A Broward divorce lawyer and his client received promising news last week which may help him regain custody of his child. Christopher Dahm was advised by the United States Department of State that his former wife, Leslie Delbecq, was detained at the Abu Dhabi airport when she attempted to depart the United Arab Emirates.

Dahm has been engaged in a global search for his two year old child for approximately one year. The United States Federal government has indicted his former wife with the crime of parental kidnapping, a violation of the laws of the United States of America.

The court in Abu Dhabi has requested information and documentation about the federal charges which are pending against Ms. Debeq who, along with her mother and father, were recently indicted by a federal grand jury.

Many times Broward divorce attorneys receive telephone calls from a parent who claims that the other parent has abducted their child. However, many individuals are unaware of the Hague Convention, a multinational treaty that provides an expeditious method to return a child taken from one member nation to another.

The Hague Convention insures the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence or wrongfully retained in a contracting state not their country of habitual residence. While the Hague Convention only applies to children under the age of 16, it preserves the status quo time-sharing and child custody arrangement that was in place before an alleged wrongful removal or retention deterring a parent from forum shopping to a more sympathetic court.

The United States of America would like Japan to sign a global convention on international parental child abduction. This would assist foreign nationals who are denied contact, access and time-sharing with children by their Japanese former spouse. Japan is one of seven nations that have not signed the Hague Convention.

During your divorce in Broward County, it is important to speak with your lawyer about removing your child from Florida during and after your case. The marital and family law judge in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court can issue an order or temporary injunction prohibiting the removal of your child from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During contested custody and time-sharing cases, the divorce judge can also issue an order prohibiting the issuance of a passport or requiring you or your spouse’s Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney to hold your child’s passport in trust to prevent your child from being abducted or kidnapped from the jurisdiction.

The United States Supreme Court recently agreed to hear arguments in a child custody dispute between a Texas mom and British dad. The court will examine how American authorities handle the Hague Convention on child abduction which prevents one parent from taking a child to other countries without the other parent’s consent. The United States is amount 80 different countries that follow this treaty.

In this case, the father accused the mother of violating a court order issued in Chile by taking the minor child, a U.S. citizen born in Hawaii, to Texas without his consent. The father asked the American court to order that the minor child be returned to Chile based upon the Hague Convention. The mother felt that she had exclusive custody of the child and that the U.S. courts can not order her to return the child to Chile.