Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Massachusetts child custody dispute results in abduction

Divorce is rarely an easy process to go through, but it can be even more difficult when the couple share children. Some Massachusetts parents can't imagine being separated from their children and each may want full physical custody. At other times, one parent may use the children as wedge or a weapon to get back at their ex-spouse. In most cases, both parents want to do what is right, although they may have different opinions on what that might be.

Recently, a Massachusetts couple was having a child custody dispute that erupted into domestic violence, according to the mother. The father left the woman's home and took their 20-month-old son with him, apparently in violation of a custody agreement. The 22-year-old father has been charged with assault and battery, parental kidnapping of a child, intimidation of a witness and reckless endangerment of a child under 18 years of age.

News reports do not refer to the mother and father as divorced parents, so it is possible that they are the unmarried parents of the 20-month-old boy. It is important to note that unmarried parents also have parental rights. In this particular case, the police were called by the woman after a domestic assault incident. The father had taken the son into the woods at about 10:30 in the evening. A search party was organized by local authorities and friends and a perimeter of 100 acres was set up with roadblocks.

The 22-year-old man and his 20-month-old son were found unharmed at the home of a friend about two miles away from the mother's residence. The 22-year-old claimed he was simply out for a walk. As a precaution perhaps, the toddler was taken to Heywood Hospital for evaluation and he appeared normal. He was returned to his mother.

The 22-year-old man is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail. This incident is a lesson for other parents engaged in child custody disputes that it is not a good idea to take matters into your own hands, but instead work cooperatively with the best interest of your child in mind.

Source: WHDH-TV, "Gardner police find man, 20-month-old after search," Aug. 28, 2012

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