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Deprivation of parental rights could affect child custody in Ohio

During contentious divorces and custody battles, relationships between parents are understandably strained, but relationships between the parents and their children can also suffer tremendously. This is especially true when one or both parents fabricate allegations or attempt to negatively (but unfairly) impact the children's perceptions of the other. However, many Ohio parents may not understand that such behaviors could result in criminal charges and loss of child custody.

A recent article tells the bizarre story of family who has recently been reunited after two of the children were missing for years. The girls went missing while the mother and father were engaged in a contentious divorce and child custody battle following a 20-year marriage. In legal proceedings, the mother claimed the father was physically abusive to bother her and the five children they shared. The father denied any abuse.

As divorce proceedings progressed, the family court judge determined that the mother was engaged in parental alienation and that the claims of child abuse were untrue. As the court investigated the allegations, the children were temporarily placed into the care of their aunt. It was during this time that the two oldest girls disappeared from their house. The only sighting of them happened when they suddenly appeared on the evening news a month later, claiming that their father threatened to shoot them and that they were afraid. They subsequently disappeared again and were not seen again for two and a half years.

The judge eventually awarded full custody to the father, and dismissed the mother's allegations of abuse. A break-in the daughter's disappearance came when a reporter wrote a story about the case on its two-year anniversary. New witness information proved that the mother had known where her daughters were the entire time. She had also kept in touch with them over the years at the therapeutic horse farm where she had dropped them off.

The mother has since been arrested on felony counts of deprivation of parental rights, and is being held with a $1 million bond. When dealing with a difficult or contentious divorce and custody battles in Ohio, it is wise to have the help of a lawyer who is experienced in complex child custody issues. Parents may be surprised to find that it is possible to reach a practical and beneficial arrangement without going through a nightmare situation.

Source: ABC News, "Missing Minnesota Sisters' Mother Accused of Hiding Them and Father Who Blames Her Tell Their Sides of the Story", Gail Deutsch, Sean Dooley and Lauren Effron, April 8, 2016

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