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Grandparents arrested in plan to secure father's parental rights

Parents in Texas sometimes become embroiled in international custody disputes. This usually happens when a native of another country takes the children to his or her country and does not return the children. It becomes a complex process of international law and politics for the parent here to get any action taken against the parent in the other country. While that process goes on, the parent here must exist without exercising his or her parental rights.

The parent remaining in Texas may follow the other parent to the foreign country and try to get justice in the courts of that jurisdiction. This sometimes works but in other instances it is a dead-end attempt. One novel way to compel action by a parent in another country occurred here recently when authorities arrested the child's grandparents when they entered the United States from the other country.

The theory for F.B.I. agents to act was that the grandparents helped the mother to move her son to Brazil and to obtain sole custody of him there. The boy's father, a Houston physician, had an agreement with the mother for sharing child custody but the mother violated the agreement. The grandparents are being held in custody, and it appears that the father is not going to relent on his criminal complaint against them unless the child is returned to Texas.

Charges of international kidnapping were filed against the grandparents under seal by federal prosecutors in March 2017. Such charges are kept secret until the government receives information that the suspects are entering the jurisdiction of the United States. The father has issued a statement declaring that he would seek leniency for the grandparents if the child is returned to Texas immediately. His parental rights were interfered with when the mother allegedly used a pretext of a family wedding to get the father's permission for the boy to travel. That was in July 2013, and the father has not seen his son since that date.

Source: The New York Times, "With Former In-Laws in Custody, Father Gains Leverage in Brazil Parental Abduction Case", Ernesto Londono, Feb. 7, 2018

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