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Two parents sentenced for child custody interference in March

It is naturally difficult for parents to have to give up custody of their children, and such action will not be taken by California courts if it is not in the best interests of the children. Family courts may consider alternative child custody arrangements for various reasons, which may include situations involving physical or emotional abuse, substance abuse or illegal activity. Cases of child custody interference and even abduction of children are not uncommon when parents are desperate to get their children back.

The March disappearance of four children from their grandmother's home caused an Amber Alert to be triggered. The children's mother contacted police detectives after four days and informed them of where she and the children could be found. Neither of the parents has child custody, and the children were returned to their grandmother.

Following the collection of the children at the U.S.-Mexico border, arrest warrants for both parents were issued, and the couple surrendered to authorities. Police warned the parents not to make any contact with the children except for visits that have to be supervised by social services. Both parents pleaded no contest in court, and the father, who is prone to physical violence and has a prior conviction for criminal threats, received an 11-year prison sentence. The mother's sentence of five years was suspended and will be served on formal probation. However, she is not allowed to see her children.

Custodial parents or guardians of children in California who suspect that another party may be planning child custody interference, such as abduction of their children, may want to take legal action to prevent it. Discussing the concerns with a legal professional may provide information about the available precautionary measures that may be taken. Protecting the best interests of the children should be the primary concern of every parent.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Parents plead no contest to kidnapping children from Boyle Heights", Joseph Serna, Dec. 16, 2014

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