Robert G. Smith, PLLC
212-499-0940

Woman arrested for child abduction

In law, there is a concept known as self-help. In general, it is frowned upon by most authorities, if not outright outlawed. Repossessing a vehicle is a well-known example of self-help. Law enforcement tends to dislike such behavior because it intrudes in their function, and often if a breach of the peace occurs, it is possible for the person engaging in self-help to be found guilty of a crime.

Another area where people attempt self-help is in divorce and family law. One parent fails to make a child support payment and the other parent will take it upon himself or herself to punish the violation by withholding the child from parenting time or visitation with the other parent.

This is never a good idea. Ever. In family courts of New York, if you engage in such behavior, it could lead to your being sanctioned by the court. In extreme cases, it will bring about criminal charges and potential jail time.

Such a case played out in Texas recently, where a woman had violated her custody order and took their child back to India. That country is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which makes it somewhat easier for the parent in the U.S. to attempt to bring their child back to the U.S.

In this case, the mother returned from India, against the advice of her attorneys and was arrested. The family court suspended her custody with the child and she is now facing a felony charge of interference with child custody.

While child custody matters can become contentious in many divorces, you should always speak with an attorney and determine a legal course of action in preference to rash action such as leaving the country with your child. As this case demonstrates, you could wind up facing felony criminal charges and being sentenced to jail for those actions.

Dallasnews.com, "Mother's arrest at D/FW Airport shows difficulties of international custody disputes," Julieta Chiquillo, September 15, 2014

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