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Woman flees with son, is arrested in Spokane

Parents want to be with their children and will often go to any length to obtain custody. According to one estimate, approximately 200,000 children are kidnapped every year in the U.S. by a relative; that relative is often the parent. Residents of Spokane may have heard of yet another parental abduction after a woman was arrested recently and charged with kidnapping her infant in mid-October. A warrant had been issued for her arrest on charges of custodial interference.

The woman, a resident of Utah, was in the middle of a child custody dispute with her estranged husband, who was the legal custodian of their 15-month-old son. During a supervised visit, she took her child and vanished when the supervisor, an elderly parent of her ex-husband, was momentarily diverted. The U.S. Marshals Service tracked her down in Spokane, Washington, approximately a month later.

Custodial interference is an attempt to disrupt the life of the custodial parent. In Washington, first-degree custodial interference is a felony and can bring jail time and a fine. A parent can be charged with this if he or she unlawfully removes the child from the child's place of residence.

Parental relocation is allowed in Washington, but this comes with a stipulation: a parenting plan has to be in place along with a custody order. The parent who wishes to relocate has to file a notice of intent, and if the former spouse disagrees, they can file an objection. This is followed by a hearing and if the impasse remains unresolved, a trial will ensue.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah woman accused of kidnapping child arrested in Washington", Janelle Stecklein, Nov. 17, 2013

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