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Parental abduction of Maryland child raises questions

Since the Maryland State Police Child Recovery Unit's founding eight years ago, it has handled 500 missing child cases. Most of them have involved parental abduction.

Particularly when in the midst of a child custody dispute, one parent may choose to bypass the legal process, take the child to another location and limit the other parent's time with the child or refuse it altogether.

One Maryland father experienced this firsthand when his estranged wife took his daughter to the Philippines in 2004 with neither authorization from a court nor the father's permission.

The father spent the following years using both the civil court system and the criminal justice system to get his child back. He was recently reunited with the young child, and she now lives with him in Maryland.

The child's mother denies she abducted the child and is now asking a Maryland court to allow the child to live with her in Georgia. While the parties' child custody fight continues, the abduction charges filed against the mother were dismissed. How the child will adjust to her new life in the United States remains to be seen, as experts describe a "huge range" of possibilities as to how the child will adapt.

Maryland child custody laws allow courts to require parents to notify one another in advance of any moves. This gives the other parent time to respond and, if appropriate, seek a change of child custody. The failure of a parent to follow the court's order could lead to punishment either by the divorce court or, in cases such as this, criminal charges.

A child custody lawyer may be able to assist a parent dealing with the other parent's abduction of their child in navigating through what can unfortunately be a long and frustrating process.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Eight years after daughter's departure, a father is reunited," Kevin Rector, July 20, 2012

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