After raising her child for ten years, a mother asked her daughter's father to start paying child support. This act spurred a child custody battle that would span two countries and leave everyone in the family affected. A December 2011 custody order in Florida placed the woman's daughter in care of the father. Additionally, the woman was ordered to pay $570 per month in child support. The woman said that she felt that she needed to flee abroad to keep her daughter and herself safe.
One day after school, the mother picked her daughter up and did not look back. She moved with her daughter to another country. They lived there for a year, during which time she was allowed to call her father twice. However, FBI, Interpol and local law enforcement agents found the mother and daughter and brought them back to Florida.
The girl has now been placed back with her father, and the mother faces kidnapping charges in Florida, even though she claims she was acting in what she thought were the best interests of her child. Her desperation at losing child custody of her daughter and child support payments made this woman feel that the only option was to find a better way of life somewhere else. She also took her younger daughter, who is only four years old, and left her with a neighbor when she returned to Florida.
The woman sobbed when describing how she only wanted to care for her daughter and keep her safe. She faces up to three years in prison if convicted and could be deported after she serves her sentence. This may keep her apart from her daughter indefinitely.
Child custody cases can involve particularly strong emotions, which make them challenging when two sides of the family fight for custody. However, having a parent willing to risk everything is a powerful thing, and something that courts may understand with the right arguments. Individuals entering child custody proceedings may need help in understanding the right things to say, when to say them and what the judges need to hear to know that the children are safe and happy where they are.
Source: Sun Sentinel, "Broward mom pleads guilty to kidnapping daughter, keeping her abroad for year," Paula McMahon, Feb. 1, 2013