Few Pennsylvania readers would argue that the world seems a smaller place in 2013. Sometimes, a parent might try and use that to his or her advantage when confronting issues over child custody. We have written several articles over the past year about international custody disputes, and the attempts of parents in the United States to retrieve their children from abroad. A recent story making national news concerns the plight of two parents who fled from the United States with their two children in the face of an adverse child custody order.
Troubles for the couple reportedly began after the father was arrested for possession of drugs in 2012. Subsequently, he apparently tried to kidnap his sons from a foster home, resulting in the issuance of a warrant authorizing his arrest. A court awarded the maternal grandparents permanent child custody of the two boys, ages four and two. Nevertheless, the father kidnapped the boys from the grandmother's home at the beginning of April.
From Tampa, where the incident occurred, both the mother and father fled with the children by boat to Cuba. Cuba, of course, is not a signatory to an international treaty about child abductions and also has no extradition agreement in place with our country. Nevertheless, Cuban diplomats arranged for the return of the family to the United States, relying in part on the fact that the family had no ties to the island. The parents were placed in handcuffs on the plane and separated from each other as well as their children. They have since been jailed in Florida on kidnapping and interference with child custody, among other accusations.
One important question is what will happen to the kids in this child custody saga. That will apparently be up to the courts of Louisiana, where the original custody determination was made. Observers expect that the grandparents will once again enjoy full custody of the boys, though visitation issues may surface. In retrospect, the parents may rue their decision to act outside the law. Pennsylvania parents facing international child custody fights may benefit by first gaining an understanding of the applicable laws and procedures in the countries involved.
Source: foxnews.com, "Florida couple accused of kidnapping kids, fleeing to Cuba booked into jail," April 10, 2013