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International child custody drama sparks court challenge

Custody battles come in many forms. Some end relatively painlessly, while others drag on for years and involve large amounts of court time. But few span multiple continents and involve both parents fleeing with the child involved. Those are the facts of a case before the Ohio Supreme Court.

However, those are the facts of a case before the Ohio Supreme Court. That case involves a girl discovered living with her father in Florida. The girl was at the center of an international child custody dispute after both parents disappeared with the girl at various times while the custody case was pending. The girl was taken to Russia by her mother before divorce proceedings concluded. Although the mother returned the girl shortly, the girl's father then departed with her, traveling across the United States and to Costa Rica before authorities tracked them down in Florida.

The case doesn't end there. After the girl's mother was granted custody following the couple's 2001 divorce, she moved back to Russia. There her daughter was abducted, flown to France and reunited with her father once again. After the father returned to the U.S., authorities found the girl and returned her to Russia. The father ultimately gained supervised visits when his ex-wife returned to the United States. His daughter, now 17, petitioned the court to allow her to be present when her father's motion to grant unsupervised home visits is heard. While this case seems to be winding down fairly amicably in the court system, it's easy to imagine a far less desirable outcome.

If not handled correctly, child custody disputes can quickly spiral out of control. Parents are under a great deal of stress and changes in child custody are often difficult to accept. Because of the stakes involved, it's critical that parties in divorce and custody proceedings receive sound advice and attempt to resolve things legally. Divorce mediation -- where a neutral party helps guide a couple through common divorce issues like child custody -- is often a good option. But whatever path is taken, it's important to keep lines of communication open. While few cases end up as international incidents, children in custody cases are affected every day by the decisions made on their behalf by parents or guardians -- for better or worse.

 

Source: The Toledo Blade, "Teen girl seeks a seat in custody litigation," Jim Provance, Oct. 24, 2013

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