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After more than 18 months apart, two Los Angeles fathers have been reunited with their sons. The mother of both children became the focus of an international manhunt that required the coordinated efforts of the FBI, Interpol and local authorities in Europe. The legal custody battle began when she took the boys on an authorized visit to Central Europe during the summer of 2012 and failed to return.

The former Hollywood resident had an international warrant against her for the international abduction. She had been married to each of the men for a time, and she was awarded joint custody of the children during the divorce proceedings in each case. When she went to Europe and remained there, the fathers went through the courts to have the custodial agreements changed. Both fathers were then awarded sole legal and physical custody of the children.

The mother indicated that she was aware of the change in custody orders and was deliberately staying away from California. She is portraying herself as the victim in this case and has made accusations of abuse against one of the fathers. However, the courts have found no such evidence of the abuse.

Visitation and custody issues can be relatively straightforward when both parties live in the same town and there are no allegations of abuse. As claims of abuse or neglect are made, the courts must review the information to determine what’s in the best interest of the child and possibly make changes to the arrangement. However, one parent does not have the right to simply withhold access to the child or to move without approval.

Source: Huffington Post, “Fathers Reunited With Their Kids 18 Months After Kidnapping“, Brenda Gazzar, December 30, 2013