On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Child Custody on Tuesday, November 26, 2013.
After being separated for approximately 35 years, a mother and son will be reunited thanks, in part, to the kindness of a stranger. The separation began when the child’s father, who was estranged from the mother, picked the child up at his home in Illinois for what appeared to be a routine visit. According to the mother, the father left the United States with the child and took him to Mexico, ignoring her repeated pleas to have the child returned to her. When the parents eventually divorced, the paperwork did not specify any arrangements regarding child custody or visitation.
After taking the child to Mexico, the father left the child with his paternal grandparents who raised him for the next 35 years. The father returned to the United States and rarely visited. Once the child was taken to Mexico, the mother was unable to locate him and, because custody arrangements were not legally formalized, the authorities were unable to help her.
The reunion may never have occurred if the United States Border Patrol had not detained the now-adult son when he recently tried to cross the border from Mexico into California. Upon his arrest, he informed the authorities that he was a citizen of the United States. To verify his story, the Border Patrol found his birth certificate and his mother. After he was released from custody, a local church provided him with a place to stay and a stranger bought him an airplane ticket to see his mother.
It is important that couples going through a separation or divorce carefully consider and document their agreement regarding custody and visitation of any minor children. A family law attorney may be able to help a client navigate this emotionally charged issue and ensure that the custody arrangements are thoroughly discussed and clearly set forth in legal documentation.
Source: CNN, “Long-lost son, 37, to finally see mother in San Diego after 35 years abroad“, Michael Martinez. Gonzalo Alvarado and Casey Wia, November 23, 2013