Q: My daughter’s mother left state with my child ten years ago without permission. We have a court orders custody agreement spelling out exact days and times for my visits and expressly starting a move out of state isn’t permitted. The courts and law enforcement were no help in finding or bringing my daughter home. Through sleuthing of my own, I FINALLY found her, have solid proof (mother wrote address on court papers) and have a paper trail documenting everything over the last decade. Do I have a case for getting my daughter back, even though it’s been so long? Child has been residing in Pennsylvania for 10 years if that makes a difference. (Baden, PA)
A: You need to see an experienced family law attorney with whom you can share the entire story which we do not have here, and which is hard to relate in this limited forum. My first question is in this day of electronic communications, how has it taken 10 years to find your daughter? If your reasons are legitimate-identity changes, subterfuge, etc., it does sound like she violated a court order. An attorney can tell you where to file. Jurisdiction still may be in Allegheny County, as I assume the child was born here and there was an open custody case, albeit ten years ago. As for criminal charges, such as interference with custody, you will have to run that past the DA. The ten-year period that has passed does not help you unless, as mentioned, there were legitimate reasons.