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Parental Child Abduction Fallout From a Paternity or Separation or Divorce in San Diego in 2013

Many children, in San Diego, are abducted by their parents each year and this can be as a result of a legal separation, divorce or paternity case whether in the San Diego court system or not. In September of 2012, Christopher Maffei, a California man, kidnapped his two children and took them for three days on a stolen yacht. When interviewed at the jailhouse he admitted stealing a 41-foot sailing yacht on September 4th from the Alameda marina. How he obtained the keys or learned how to sail, no one really knows. While this was not in San Diego County, this illustrates that this does occur.

A Nightmare Situation

When he passed the Golden Gate Bridge he realized had no set destination and began to have misgivings. Maffei conceded he had ‘gone crazy’ but at no time placed the kids in danger. He has been accused of forcibly abducting his 2-year old son and 3-year old daughter from custody of their grandmother while the children’s mother sought to secure a restraining order against him. He just made this decision a lot easier for the Court to decide.

Authorities caught up with Maffei on September 7th near Monterey from where they towed him back to shore. He told the newspapers he kept the children safe and warm and they had a grand time.

Another Viewpoint

Among the many charges he has to face are parental abduction, child endangerment, and kidnapping. Maffei contended that at their mother’s home, his children whom he cared for were unsafe. Were they safe when he took them out in the ocean on a boat he did not know how to operate and while his navigation skills were nonexistent? Many believe not.

A Simple Decision

Their mother who refuted his claim has since been awarded a temporary restraining order and full custody. The court has denied Maffei visitation rights.

When a parent abducts a child it is known as parental child abduction. This most often occurs when divorce, paternity or legal separation proceedings begin or when the parents separate. A strategy often employed is for one parent to remove or retain a child to gain an advantage over the other parent in forthcoming child-custody proceedings. Other tactics which frequently occur is when a parent refuses to return a child when an access visit is over or to abscond with the child to prevent the other parent access to the child. The parent could act in this manner for fear that the child might be abused or be the victim of child abuse or violence.

Parental child abductions take many forms. They could be inside the same city, state or country, but often when one parent is of foreign origin the child is taken to another country. Statistics of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, a department of the U.S. Department of Justice, posit 53% of children abducted by family in 1999 were gone for under a week and 21% for a period of a month or more.

California [and San Diego] Lead the Way

Parental child abduction is not a criminal offense in some states or countries. This includes many states in the U.S. where in the absence of a formal custody order and if the parents are not living together, if one parent removes the child it does not constitute an offense. However, interstate child abduction is a criminal offense in many American states. California was the first state to pass prevention laws for parental kidnapping which set the trend which other states followed.

A Steady and Dedicated Law Firm

In San Diego, parents in disputes relating to child custody or being involved in child abduction can consult the family law firm of Doppelt and Forney, APLC. While the firm offers legal services in all facets of family law, it has significant experience in cases relating to child custody rights, child support, visitation rights, and instances of child abduction.

The firm also offers a free, initial half-hour introductory appointment for an evaluation of your case.

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