We have written before about the challenges ease of travel can present in Texas child custody and visitation disputes. In one article on this subject we noted how one parent being a member of the military can complicate crafting viable parenting plans.
In that matter, an Army sergeant’s claim that he had been denied the right to make a case for why his daughter should be returned to his custody from her mother’s in Scotland went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. On orders from the high court, an appeals court in Florida finally heard the soldier’s arguments, but rejected them. His ex-wife was allowed to keep the daughter in Scotland.
Situations like this are not uncommon, as a recent case out of Florida shows. In this instance, a retired U.S. Air Force officer is facing the possibility of being sent to prison for up to three years if he’s found guilty of federal charges of international parental kidnapping. According to a federal indictment, the man fled the U.S. in the spring of 2014 with his then 5-year-old daughter in tow – an alleged violation of child custody orders.
One of the key legal options available for responding to such actions is the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. However, to be enforced, the countries involved both have to be signatories to the treaty. In this case, the father took the child to a non-signatory country and managed to evade arrest for two years.
That ended recently when British authorities, alerted by an Interpol notice, took the father into custody as he passed through that country. His daughter is once again in the U.S.
That is not the end of the story, however. The father says he is will fight the charge and doesn’t believe he’ll face prison. He says, “It’s very clear that, yeah, I did break the law, but I did it in a justifiable manner.”
If he has his way, he will get liberal visitation rights with his daughter and the court will require a social worker’s presence when the girl is with her mother. That apparently stems from the father’s accusation of improper conduct by his ex-wife’s new husband – a claim in which, at this point, the courts have not put much stock.
We’ll keep watch to see how this case plays out.
Source: TampaBay.com, “Custody battle involving retired Air Force dad crosses globe,” Samuel Howard, July 31, 2016