Separated and divorced Houston parents agree to living arrangements that benefit shared children. At some point, for employment or other reasons, a parent may decide to relocate. A Texas family court must approve the move, particularly when it involves a significant distance from the other parent.
Child custody agreements set the rules for parental relocations. In some cases, a parent violates the contract and flees with the former couple's child. The most heart-wrenching cases involve international abductions to countries with conflicting family laws.
The last time a Texas dad saw his daughter, she was 4. The child was abducted by her non-custodial mother during a visitation weekend in 2002. The girl, who lived most of her life in Mexico, is now 17.
The mother moved, leaving a job without notice and with a fake forwarding address. An interference with child custody warrant was issued in Texas. Eventually, federal officials charged the woman, now 44, with unlawful flight. As law enforcers searched for the missing pair, the father launched the FindSabrina.org website, offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the child's whereabouts and return.
The missing woman earlier had threatened to take the child to Mexico, where a search resulted in a siting of the mother and child in 2003. The trail then ran dry, until searchers recently received a tip that led them an apartment, where the woman and teen lived. The woman faces charges in Texas, while her daughter undergoes psychological care.
The father-daughter reunion hasn't taken place yet. Although she is physically healthy, the girl apparently suffered emotionally from being on the run. Her identity and looks were changed in hiding, where she was told her father was "bad."
During the girl's 12-year absence, the father remarried and had more children. Not surprisingly, he is anxious for a reunion.
Attorneys provide legal support for parents' wishes for and against relocations.
Source: CNN, "Like 'Ahab and the white whale,' man hunted missing daughter for 12 years" Michael Martinez, Oct. 01, 2014