Child custody determinations are difficult in and of themselves, but can be rendered even more complicated when parents live far apart and in different states. Every year there a number of cases where one parent kidnaps his or her own children and prevents the other parent from seeing the children. Accused similarly is a Florida man who abducted his 3-year-old son after he took the boy to a park during a supervised visit and then boarded a sailboat and sailed away. Authorities later found the man in the Gulf of Mexico, and he now faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Recently arrested was a California woman 14 years after she reportedly kidnapped her daughter. The girl’s father reported her missing in the mid-1990′s, and, despite an arrest warrant from the state and the FBI, the woman continued to raise her daughter alone until, several months ago, a tip provided the location of the woman and her daughter.
Child abductions by a child’s parent are more common when the parents are far apart, making it easier for parents to escape detection. Child custody decrees are important to ensure that courts are able to enforce which parent has what visitation rights. One parent cannot move far away without making changes to custody and visitation rights.
The important consideration is which parent’s state has jurisdiction, because that parent will have the advantage in determining child custody. Child custody cases can be a very difficult and emotionally draining experience that needs the attention of a compassionate and determined Houston divorce attorney.
Some of the important factors to take into consideration when dealing with child custody across different states are:
- If the parent moving away is taking the children, he or she may be required to pay expenses to permit the other parent to make the long distance visitation. Alternatively, the moving parent could also pay the expenses for having the children visit the non-moving parent.
- A long distance move will also affect child support payments. For the parent providing support, if he or she is around the children less, he or she will likely be required to pay more in child support.
- Generally you cannot withhold visitation rights if the other parent owes child support, or vice versa, you cannot withhold child support because there have been problems with visitation. One exception that a few courts recognize is the suspension of child support if the parent with custody disappears for a long period.
- Both the Uniform Child Custody Act and the Parent Kidnapping Preventing Act order family courts not to hear cases where a parent brings a child to a new state and then seeks to obtain custody in the new state’s court without the consent of the other parent.
Contact an experienced Houston family lawyer at John K. Grubb & Associates, PC if you are involved in a divorce and child custody determination involving parents from different states.