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Child custody in New Jersey complicated by another country

New Jersey courts sometimes must jail a parent during a custody hearing for failure to comply with court orders. More than eight years ago, this happened to a woman who was originally from another country but had been residing here in this state. The child custody hearing was going in favor of the father getting custody of their daughter so the mother took matters into her own hands.

The mother, who is from another country, was just released from jail after spending more than eight years behind bars. She was convicted of willful interference of  her child's custody. And, after being paroled, she was then jailed due to being charged with contempt of court when she took her daughter to Spain after the courts awarded custody to her ex-husband.

The Spanish courts claim to have jurisdiction over the child custody case and will not allow the couple's daughter to leave their country until she turns 18 years old. In the meantime, she has been without both parents for more than eight years. When the Family Court judge jailed the mother for failure to bring her daughter back to New Jersey within the 10 days he allowed, he chose to jail her for contempt of court. His intent was to coerce the mother to bring her daughter back to the United States. Since this became impossible due to the extenuating circumstances, the mother was released from jail because the order was never meant to punish. 

In child custody cases parents often find new ways to draw out the proceedings. New Jersey attorneys can help parents come to an agreement with their ex-spouse through the courts or through mediation so that both parents have time with their children. Each parent is encouraged to have his or her own representative in court to express that parent's wishes.

Source: northjersey.com, "Mother in bitter Bergen County child-custody case is freed after 8 years in jail", Kibret Markos, April 24, 2015

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