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Violation of child custody has dad indicted on federal charges

Civil court is where family law disputes are to be resolved. This is true for Louisiana and every other state. Unfortunately, there are times when the circumstances of a case escalate beyond that arena. Then the criminal courts may have to be turned to.

Different things can trigger such jumps in jurisdiction. One that all experienced family law attorneys have come across is when a parent chooses to violate provisions of child custody and visitation orders. If a parent feels he or she can’t achieve the outcome they desire, they may feel pressed to take actions that expose them to criminal charges. Few would consider that a good situation.

This comes to mind in light of a recent story out of Florida. It involves a former U.S. Air Force officer, now retired, who faces a federal indictment on kidnapping charges. The allegation against him is that he abducted his then-5-year-old daughter and took her to the United Arab Emirates.

The father and his ex-wife had been granted shared custody of the girl when they divorced in 2011. When he had custody of the child, he reportedly sometimes took her for two-month blocks of time and travelled the world. This apparently was done without the mother’s consent.

In 2014, a judge cited the father as a potential international kidnapping risk and barred him from taking the child out of the country without court permission. Not long after that, but before the judge had worked out a new time-sharing agreement, the father left with the girl. They spent the next two years abroad.

Complicating matters, says the mother’s attorney, is that the United Arab Emirates is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. He says that would have likely made any effort to recover the girl through the courts fruitless.

Conditions changed, though, when the father recently visited the United Kingdom. Tipped by Interpol, authorities arrested him under the aegis of the Hague treaty and the girl was returned to her mother.

The father now faces as much as three years in prison, but he says he doesn’t believe prosecutors will seek such a penalty. Instead, he says he’s convinced he did what was in the best interest of his daughter and that he’ll win liberal visitation rights.

We’ll have to wait to see.

Source:, “Custody battle involving retired Air Force dad crosses globe,” Samuel Howard, July 31, 2016

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