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Abducted children returned to their fathers after 18 months

Residents of New York who share custody of their children should take note of a recent case involving two fathers on the opposite coast who had their respective children abducted from California and kept in Europe by their mother for more than 18 months.

The mother, who originally shared child custody of her sons with each of their fathers, had been given permission by a court to take her sons to the Czech Republic and Slovakia for the month of June 2012. The 32-year-old woman, a Slovakian with legal residency in the U.S., is reported to have never returned with the children.

The mother traveled with her sons around Europe at length and allegedly changed their appearances to make them unrecognizable. In February 2013, the woman settled down with her sons in the French town Divonne les Bains and enrolled her children in a local school using aliases.

The fathers of the boys, now ages 10 and 4, realized that the boys' mother had abducted the children, and a local court awarded each of the fathers full custody of their sons. The abduction prompted a manhunt in connection with an international arrest warrant. The woman was found on Dec. 19 near her sons' school in France, and she was ordered by a French court on Dec. 26 to return the children to their fathers.

The two men brought their sons back to California on Dec. 28, and the Los Angeles D.A.'s Office is attempting to extradite the woman in connection with the charges filed against her. If a parent has concerns that another parent may leave the state or country with their children, a family law attorney may help the parent file a request with a court seeking safeguards to prevent abduction. Legal counsel may also be of assistance in regaining a child who has been detained by a parent.

Source: Huffington Post, "Fathers Reunited With Their Kids 18 Months After Kidnapping", Brenda Gazzar, December 30, 2013

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