Most residents of Rhode Island understand that courts generally make child custody determinations in the aftermath of a divorce. In all child custody decisions, court orders are binding and any violation of an order is treated as an offense.
In a recent Amber Alert incident, a 34-year-old Woonsocket mother fled the state with her 6-year-old son and took him across the country to Washington state.
A court order from the Rhode Island Family Court had allowed the mother to take her son to school on Mondays and Tuesdays. The week of his disappearance; however, the boy failed to appear in school on either of those days. The mother also failed to show up for a court date the Wednesday of that week. After the boy's father contacted police, her cellphone was traced and police concluded she was on her way to Washington and her family.
The Amber Alert was in effect when the mother was arrested and subsequently held at a jail in Washington State. The boy's father flew to Seattle to pick up his son and return him to Rhode Island. The mother was extradited to Rhode Island and is being held on one count of child snatching. She has a pretrial hearing scheduled for March and is expected to plead not guilty.
This may be an extreme case of a parent violating child-custody orders, but minor infringements may be more common and easier to overlook. Any parent who wants a change in custody arrangements should remember that seeking a modification in court is the best way to achieve that result if he or she wants to spend more time with the child. To determine the options available in a child-custody dispute, a parent would be wise to speak with an experienced Rhode Island Family law attorney.
Source: WPRI.com, "Court date continued for mom in Amber Alert case," Shaun Towne, Feb. 24, 2014