Child custody dispute ends with kidnapping charges

On behalf of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC posted in Child Custody on Tuesday, September 18, 2012.

After being confronted by the Coast Guard, a father who allegedly forcibly sailed away with his children surrendered to authorities. This kidnapping story, which stems from a child custody dispute, serves as a learning lesson for Virginia parents involved in custody disputes. There are many emotions swirling around during custody disputes. Although some parents may be apprehensive about relying on the Virginia court system to resolve such disputes, a court can issue temporary custody orders to help avoid conflicts and instances of alleged kidnapping.

This specific child custody dispute escalated when the father decided to sail away along the west coast with his two children. The father alleged that the mother was abusive and the mother was seeking a restraining order against the father. Local authorities claim that while the mother was in court seeking the restraining order, the father forcibly removed the children from their grandmother's home. The father then attempted to sail away with the two children on a yacht. Eventually, after being spotted by authorities and fishermen, the father decided to surrender. He is now in jail on $200,000 bail and faces several charges including kidnapping, burglary and child endangerment.

In Virginia, child custody disputes far too often involve such extreme facts and emotions as the sailing incident. However, parents can avoid such situations. The Virginia court system provides a solution. Parents can come to court and seek temporary custody orders. Temporary custody orders establish parental custody rights even before a couple separates or formal custody paperwork is filed. They provide some initial custody ground rules by which parents must abide. A judge will typically hold court proceedings and review the facts of the custody dispute, including each of the parents' stories as well as their financial circumstances. The judge will then set the temporary custody and visitation schedule order. Having such an order in place helps avoid claims of kidnapping or other charges.

Custody disputes can be overwhelming, especially when kidnapping allegations erupt. Parents can avoid such harsh realities, however, if they realize how contentious custody disputes can become and act quickly to get a temporary custody order in place.

Source:, "Father accused of taking 2 kids away on stolen yacht appears in court, says mom abused kids," Associated Press, Sept. 10, 2012

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