Virginia law school and church are defendants in kidnapping case

On behalf of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC posted in Child Custody on Friday, November 2, 2012.

An August blog presented a sensational story about a heated international kidnapping. The kidnapping occurred in the wake of a child custody dispute between a lesbian couple. The birthing mother, after denouncing homosexuality, decided to run away with the couple's daughter. The non-birthing partner claims that her former partner, as well as several other individuals, are to blame for the kidnapping and escalation of the custody dispute.

The last blog discussed how a Virginia minister was on trial for his role in the kidnapping. His case actually came to a close last month, when a jury convicted him of helping the birthing mother kidnap her daughter. He faces up to three years in prison.

The conviction does not bring closure for the non-birthing mother, however. Instead, she has decided to pursue additional court proceedings against other parties. Specifically, the non-birthing mother has filed a civil-racketeering case in federal court against a Virginia law school, as well as a Virginia church, for their involvement in the matter. The mother alleges that they were part of a conspiracy to kidnap her daughter and move her out of the country. The dean of the law school believes that the suit is frivolous and outrageous.

Child custody disputes in Virginia typically do not receive such an extraordinary amount of media attention. However, it is not uncommon for them to involve several different individuals and parties, like the international kidnapping case discussed above. A number of people may claim custody rights. For instance, grandparents or other family members may become involved in a visitation dispute or seek visitation rights. Often, they argue that it is in the best interests of the child to have contact with extended family members.

The law permits family members, as well as others who claim to have an interest in a child, to participate in a child custody dispute. Although such disputes do not usually involve international kidnapping charges and suits for civil-racketeering, they can involve complex legal issues concerning legal custody and visitation rights. It is important for all those involved in custody disputes to be apprised of the potential complexities, in order to work towards a solution that offers a child a safe, secure custody arrangement.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Gay mom sues Staver's law school in wake of custody fight," Rene Stutzman, Oct. 20, 2012

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