Mother flees with child despite joint custody agreement

Utah parents may have recently heard about a mother that was arrested for fleeing the state where she lived with her daughter and is now facing felony charges. The charge of parental interference is for withholding visitation from the daughter's dying father in violation of their joint custody agreement. A bond of $10,000 was imposed on the mother to ensure extradition back to the father's home state because of the possibility that she may be a flight risk. Contact with her daughter has been denied.

The mother and her former husband had maintained a cordial relationship that included joint custody of their daughter after the couple split up. The turning point for this former couple was when the father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. The father had been given an estimated two to five years to live by his doctors.

Upon hearing this news, the mother told her ex-husband that she and her daughter were going on a two week vacation, but instead, she fled the state with the couple's daughter in violation of the custody agreement. Unfortunately, this is an example of why divorce courts maintain jurisdiction over minor children even after a divorce is final. This little girl's father has the right to go back to court to enforce or even modify the custody agreement.

Many Utah parents have been able to work together in order to maintain joint custody of their children by focusing more on the needs of their children than on their own wants and desires. This may help provide the stability the child may be lacking in a household disrupted by divorce. If an amicable relationship deteriorates and the joint custody agreement is violated as was the case here, the injured parent may go back to court for relief.

Source: Missoulian, Woman accused of fleeing Montana with daughter charged with felony, Kathryn Haake, Oct 15, 2013

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