When an Arizona parent believes that his or her child is at risk of being harmed by the other parent, there is often no limit to what steps an individual will take to remedy that situation. Often, these parents end up embroiled in a nasty child custody fight, with one parent firmly believing that the courts will act to protect the child from harm. Unfortunately, the family court environment is an imperfect system, and courts do not have the time or resources to gain a comprehensive understanding of the workings of any given family. The outcome can sometimes be difficult or impossible for a parent to live with.
Such may be the case for a mother whom police believe has acted to hide her teenage daughters from their father for more than two years. The woman went through a difficult child custody fight with her former husband. The pair have five children together, all of whom were initially living with their mother. Allegations were made that the father abused both the mother and two of the female children, but those assertions were never substantiated. Instead, a psychologist interviewed the parties and reported that the children had been subjected to brainwashing.
As a result, the family court judge ordered that both parents cease contact with their children. The two teenage girls were placed in the custody of an aunt, but they ran away less than an hour after police brought them to their home, where the aunt was to assume responsibility for their care. In 2013, the father was given custody of all five children, and the mother was found to be mentally unstable and granted only supervised visitation.
As it currently stands, police do not know where the teenage girls are living, but believe that they are being cared for by a network of supporters who feel that the family court system is broken and corrupt. The mother has been taken into custody for deprivation of parental rights and is awaiting extradition. While this case remains unresolved, the story certainly serves as a warning for parents in Arizona and elsewhere who choose to go outside of the family court structure to find justice in a difficult child custody battle.
Source: startribune.com, "Mother's arrest brings Lakeville police no closer to missing girls", Brandon Stahl, Oct. 21, 2015