Reading Child Abduction Case Closed

Q: Can child custody become a criminal matter?

It isn’t every day that a Reading, Pennsylvania child custody dispute makes national headlines, but it recently happened.

Pennsylvania family law attorneys help couples who are divorcing or separating with the transition to living separate lives. That often includes distributing jointly-held marital property and, in the case of minor children, determining what is in the best interest of the children as far as child custody and child support are concerned. It is generally considered in the best interest of the children to have parents share equally in such responsibilities.

If the parents can’t amicably resolve these matters, the judge will render a decision on child custody and the parents are legally bound to abide by that court order regardless of whether they feel it is fair or not.

Unfortunately, there are instances when one parent will abduct their child so the other cannot have access, becoming a fugitive from the law and living in hiding in fear of the day a knock on the door exposes the truth–often sending the fleeing parent to prison and the abducted child into the sole custody of the other parent. Depending on the age of the child and the length of time in hiding, the child may not even remember the other parent.

An alleged parental child abduction case originated in Reading three years ago when a local Dad claimed he discovered a note from his toddler son’s mother upon arriving at her apartment to pick him up one Friday, pursuant to a shared joint custody court order. She reportedly fled to Texas, but eluded the FBI since then.

However, the day after this missing child case was featured on a national TV show, viewer tips were called in which resulted in her capture and extradition to Berks County. She has been charged with “interference with custody of children, concealment of whereabouts of a child and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution”. The boy, now 4, was found safe at school and was taken into custody by local Child Protective Services pending return to his father. Reportedly, another son from a different father, was also taken into CPS custody.

Child custody battles are generally civil matters, but may become criminal matters in cases of parental child abduction.

If parents are unhappy or unable to comply with the terms of a court order regarding child support, child custody or visitation, it is best to consult a skilled family law attorney rather than taking matters into your own hands. An attorney may be able to petition the court for a modification order, depending on your circumstances.

If you need help with child support or child custody issues, including obtaining or modifying an order for child support or custody, the Law Office of Gary R. Swavely, Jr. can help. Contact us today to request a consultation. From our office in Reading, we’ve been representing clients throughout Pennsylvania for over 25 years.