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Fathers return from Europe with their abducted children

Two California fathers recently made national headlines after they returned stateside with their children, who had been illegally kept in Europe by their mother for more than 18 months. Prior to the abduction, the 32-year-old woman, a Slovakian with legal U.S. residency, had shared child custody of her 4-year-old and 10-year-old sons with her two ex-husbands.

A local court had previously given the woman permission to take her two children to Slovakia and the Czech Republic for one month in 2012. When the fathers feared that the mother was not returning with their sons, they both filed child concealment complaints and were awarded sole custody by local authorities.

The fathers' actions eventually led to an international search that involved both the FBI and Interpol. The mother allegedly moved with her children around Europe before settling in a French town in February 2013 and enrolling her children in a local school using false names. The mother is also said to have altered the boys' appearances, ostensibly to conceal their identities. She was arrested near the children's school on Dec. 19, and the case was heard by a French court on Dec. 26. The court ordered the boys returned to their fathers, and the two men brought their sons back to California on Dec. 28. The woman has been charged by the Los Angeles D.A.'s Office, who is seeking to extradite her in connection with the alleged crimes.

As seen with this case, obtaining the return of an abducted child is a complex legal matter. To determine whether a request can be made for a court to implement safeguards to prevent such a crime from occurring, a parent who has concerns that the other parent may flee with their child should consult with a family law attorney.

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

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