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Father kidnaps daughter to evade court order

California judges have broad powers to resolve the many issues in a divorce. Refusal to obey an order establishing the parties' rights to child custody and visitation can result in a citation for contempt of court, a fine, and, in extreme cases, criminal charges. A recent child custody incident in Northern California demonstrates the sort of extreme behavior that can lead to unhappy results for all concerned.

Deputies from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office are searching for a 34-year-old male and his 23-month-old daughter. The Humboldt County Court recently issued an order granting full custody of the girl to her mother. The man and his daughter were last seen at the Humboldt County Courthouse on May 2. The girl's mother reported her missing on May 11. Deputies believe that the father intends to go into hiding and conceal the location of the girl to avoid the effect of the custody order.

Disobeying a court order is never a good idea, and abduction of a child carries especially severe penalties. The penalty for abduction is one year in prison and a fine of $1,000.

Anyone who is unhappy with a court order granting custody of a child to the other parent would be much better off consulting an experienced family law attorney than abducting the child. A knowledgeable divorce attorney can provide advice on bringing a motion to modify a custody order. An attorney can spot flaws in the initial custody proceeding that may provide the basis for a successful appeal.

Emotions run high in any child custody proceeding, but a person who doesn't agree with a custody order must not give into extreme anger. Consulting an experienced family lawyer is a far more appropriate outlet for those emotions than a unilateral choice to disobey the judge.

Source: KOBI5, "Child reported missing in N. California," May 11, 2018

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