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International child custody case ends for Texas man

On Sept. 29, Mexican authorities apprehended a woman who had fled from Texas to Mexico in 2002 with her 4-year-old daughter. The 44-year-old woman was the child's noncustodial parent 12 years ago when she decided to relocate to Mexico along with the child, despite having neither the court's nor the other parent's permission.

According to the FBI, the international abduction occurred near the end of a six-month period of supervised visitation. Authorities say the woman violated a court-ordered child custody agreement when she failed to return the girl to her father in April 2002.

The father, now remarried for 10 years and with children from that marriage, says that he never stopped pursuing the return of his daughter. In fact, private investigators working on behalf of the father received information from one of their informants about the suspected whereabouts of the mother and daughter. That tip eventually led to the mother's apprehension by Mexican authorities and her return to the U.S.

Unfortunately, the father says that his daughter, now 17, has been subjected to severe parental alienation during her time living in Mexico on the run with her mother. Investigators say that the pair eluded authorities on several occasions and even went so far as to dye their hair and assume false identities. The father says that his daughter is not interested in being reunited with him. She is reportedly at an undisclosed location where she is undergoing a medical evaluation.

Parents of children from divorced marriages should know that Texas law provides family courts with the authority to enforce the best interest of any child involved in those relationships. Abducting a child and fleeing across international borders is never a way to solve child custody issues. Matters involving visitation rights, relocation and changes in child support amounts can all be addressed through the courts. In some cases, a request for modification of an existing child custody order is all that is required. By complying with court ordered visitation rules and working within the law, parents can ensure that they maintain reasonable access to their child, while also preserving the child's best interests.

Source: USA Today, "Texas girl taken by mom 12 years ago rescued in Mexico" Doug Stanglin and Michael Winter, Oct. 01, 2014

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