In most child custody disputes, parents are trying to determine the most suitable parenting plan for their family. Issues such as physical and legal custody are the most common matters to be resolved. In some cases, one parent may be dissatisfied with the ultimate arrangement approved by the court. And unfortunately, parents who are wholly unhappy with their share of parenting responsibilities have on occasion resorted to drastic measures, such as abducting their children in contravention of the custody order. In order to prepare an arrangement that is in the best interests of your children, it is critical that you contact a local San Diego family law attorney as early in the proceedings as possible.
The child abduction statistics in this country are staggering. According to the US Department of Justice, 800,000 children are reported missing every year in the United States, while an estimated 200,000 are taken or abducted by a family member. One of the most helpful tools in finding abducted children within a quick time frame has been the "Amber Alert" system. Despite the effectiveness of the system, there was a question as to its applicability to abduction by a child's parent or guardian. To address this ambiguity, the California legislature drafted a bill to amend the state Amber Alert law. The law now authorizes activation of the Emergency Alert System even if the abductor is the child's custodial parent or guardian where the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
In a recent court of appeals case, a mother who took her children in contravention of the current custody order was found guilty of two counts of child abduction in violation of the California state penal code. Here, the parties had twins in 1999 and divorced in 2007. At the time of the divorce, the original settlement agreement afforded the parents a right of first option to care for the children while the other parent was away dealing with an emergency. Many years and multiple custody orders later, the court awarded the dad primary physical custody of the twins in 2008.