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Fathers separated from their sons for 18 months

North Carolina readers may have heard of a mother who reportedly kidnapped her two sons for more than a year. On Dec. 28, 2013, the two boys returned to the Los Angeles area with their fathers after being separated for 18 months. The boys' mother had allegedly kept them in Europe, changing their names and appearances.

The mother and her two sons had traveled from the U.S. to Europe on a court-approved trip to visit Slovakia and the Czech Republic for one month in 2012. She was permitted to be in Europe between June 1 and July 1, 2012. Police say the boy's mother allegedly failed to return on the agreed date and began to offer excuses about when she and the boys would come back to the U.S. The fathers realized that the mother was in violation of their shared child custody agreement and filed child concealment complaints with a local court. They were subsequently granted sole physical and legal custody of their boys.

The mother was taken into custody in France on Dec. 19 and appeared at a French hearing with both ex-husbands on Dec. 26. At the hearing, the judge ordered the return of the children to their fathers. In addition, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office has filed charges against the mother and is seeking her extradition to the U.S. for prosecution. According to court documents, if she is successfully extradited and prosecuted on the charges, she will face a bond of $500,000 and as much as six years in jail.

Parents are legally bound to adhere to court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements. A parent that prevents another parent from seeing his or her child may face criminal prosecution and the loss of custody. A North Carolina lawyer may help protect the visitation rights of non-custodial parents.

Source: Huffington Post, "Fathers Reunited With Their Kids 18 Months After Kidnapping", Brenda Gazzar, December 30, 2013

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