California residents may have heard about an unusual case of a Florida couple’s reaction to the news that custody of their young sons had been granted to the boys’ maternal grandparents. Less than a week after the grandparents received permanent custody of their two grandsons, ages two and four, the children’s father then entered the home where the children were staying and allegedly tied up the grandmother, and he and the boys’ mother fled with the children to Cuba. He had recently purchased a boat, and his abandoned truck was found the following day. On April 9, the family was spotted in Cuba at a marina. The Cuban government notified the U.S. State Department and assisted in bringing the couple back to the United States.
A judge initially entered a child custody order removing the children from the father’s care after he was arrested for drug possession in 2012. At that time, the father reportedly used a gun in an attempt to take the children from foster care. It was not clear what stopped the attempt at that time.
The man and his wife are now being held on several charges, including interference with custody, child neglect and kidnapping. The children have been returned to the care of their grandparents. Cuba does not have any official agreements with the United States and is not a member of the Hague Convention. Therefore, fugitives from justice have sought to escape to Cuba in the past. However, the country has recently chosen to voluntarily cooperate with U.S. authorities on several occasions.
Child custody can be a very emotional event, especially when the party seeking custody is not a biological parent of the child. A family law attorney may be able to help make the process less stressful for California residents by negotiating custody agreements and establishing a plan for receiving child support.
Source: Deseret News, “US couple in jail after fleeing to Cuba with kids,” Suzette Laboy, April 10, 2013