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When child custody meets criminal law

Child custody issues are typically complex. They often are contentions. But they rarely wind up in criminal court, which is one reason why a case that is being tried in New York is notable. A man is charged with international parental kidnapping for his role in helping a woman and her child cross the border into Canada and then travel to Nicaragua.

The woman left the U.S. to avoid turning her child over to her former domestic partner. The two had a civil union in Vermont before same-sex marriage was permitted. They had the child together and both women parented the child. Their relationship failed and the birth mother joined a conservative church, claiming to no longer be a homosexual.

She refused to share custody with her former partner and refused to permit visitation with the child. When a Vermont family court transferred custody to the other woman, she fled the country. The man was associated with conservative Christian organizations and is accused of helping them escape the country.

Interference with court orders of custody is never advisable. When one parent refuses to follow the court ordered custody arrangement, only conflict and dissension will result. This is never in the best interests of the child, and presuming domestic violence or child abuse is not present, both parents should be involved in their child's lives.

The child was seven-years-old when she was taken from her other parent,  is now age 14 and is still assumed to be out of the country. It is unclear if she will ever be reunited with the other woman who helped to raise her. It is difficult to see any good that has come of this type of conflict and when the criminal courts become involved, the outcome is often sad and tragic.

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