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Father wins child custody four years after son's abduction

Most Tennessee couples may agree that parents go out of their way to do everything for their child and to be there for him or her. However, a mother went to such lengths to be with her son that she committed an international abduction of her child. The child was recently reunited with his father after four years.

According to reports, the mother, a native of Zambia, married a man from the U.S. in 2005. The couple had a 4-year-old son together when they got divorced and were awarded joint legal custody of the child. However, a year after the divorce, the wife lost her job and her visa also expired. She was forced to return to Zambia. However, the court prohibited her from taking the child. Despite the court order, during her weekend visitation, the mother took the child with her out of the country.

According to the father, his ex-wife took their son's clothes and used a forged passport to smuggle her son to Zambia. The international abduction came to the attention of the local police department, but they could not get the child back into the country as no treaty with Zambia existed to facilitate that.

A court granted full custody of the child to the father after investigating the entire incident. Recently, four years after the abduction, the FBI got a lead that the child had traveled to the Netherlands. The matter was brought to the attention of Dutch authorities who, after a hearing that continued for three months, allowed the father to take his now-8-year-old son back to the U.S.

The father-son pair will soon be getting counseling from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in order to facilitate a normal upbringing for the child. The mother was charged with felony child abduction, but she could not be extradited because under Zambia law, parental abductions are not illegal. However, if she returns to the U.S., she could be arrested for kidnapping and falsifying government documents.

The entire time that the father was separated from his son must have been traumatic for him. It is, therefore, essential that child custody disputes are amicably resolved while seeking a divorce. It is important to ensure that the best interests of the child are taken care of while deciding on the legal custody of the child.

Source: ABC, "Orange County man reunited with kidnapped son 4 years later," Miriam Harnandez, Oct. 18, 2013

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