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Pennsylvania hears of kidnapping accusation in child custody case

Pennsylvania residents may be interested to learn the importance of differing state laws when it comes to child custody. The father and grandfather of an 18-month-old boy found out the hard way that what was legal in one state was not considered to be so in another. This confusion over child custody laws led to some jail time for both men.

Without informing the boy's father, the mother, along with her son and her boyfriend, moved to a state hundreds of miles away. At Christmas, the father and grandfather made the trip to see the child. Because it was his week to have custody of the boy, per an earlier shared custody verbal agreement between both parents, he and his father took the boy home with them after being left alone with the child. The sheriff's office was called when the mother realized her son was gone and both men were charged with kidnapping. Had they been convicted, they possibly would have been sentenced to numerous years in prison.

In court, the charge was modified to interference with child custody once the assistant district attorney reassessed the case. The attorney for the men told the judge they did not realize that what they had done was in opposition to the law because of the custody agreement, the fact he was named the father on the boy's birth certificate, as well as it being his week to have his son. The state where the man resided did consider him to be the boy's father and he had also sought legal advice for consent before leaving with his son. The state from where they took the boy did not consider their actions legal, however, and the men were given a sentence of five years' probation from the judge.

As this case points out, various laws differ by state, and child custody matters are included in that number. When dealing with more than one state, it is of vital importance to recognize the laws of each. Parents who live in Pennsylvania while their former partners live elsewhere have to consider the differing legal ramifications when drafting custody agreements.

Source: chronicle.augusta.com, "Guilty pleas entered in child custody dispute", Sandy Hodson, April 13, 2015

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