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Ukrainian woman sentenced to time served in child custody dispute

It is important for litigants in Colorado child custody disputes to remember that orders issued by the court are compulsory, and parties who intentionally defy a child custody order could face serious legal consequences, including loss of custody rights and even criminal charges.

Parties who abscond with a child in violation of a custody arrangement can face criminal charges of abduction and custodial interference; these charges can affect future custody determinations. Relocating outside of the country can be particularly problematic. Even when litigants don't agree with an order, they must obey it or risk a negative outcome.

On Aug. 31, a Ukrainian woman pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after removing her son from the United States in violation of a custody order that gave equal parenting time to her and her ex-husband. The woman had initially been charged with a felony, but that charge was reduced to two misdemeanor charges.

However, prosecutors reduced those charges to disorderly conduct, a decision that was made with the input of the child's father. Reportedly, all parties wanted to limit the child's distress by reuniting him with his mother.

The mother pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to time served; she had spent five months in jail prior to Friday's hearing. It is unclear if the father has filed for a custody modification or other remedies in this case.

Incidentally, the Ukraine is a Hague signatory country, which means it has agreed to facilitate the return of children who have been improperly removed from their home country during family disputes. Parents seeking relief under the Hague Convention may find the process daunting, and it is advisable that parents consult with an attorney who is experienced and fluent in a wide variety of family law issues.

Source: Watertown Daily Times, "Ukrainian pleads guilty to disorderly conduct to resolve child custody dispute charges," Brian Kelley, Sept. 1, 2012

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