A growing international custody battle involving a New Jersey police officer and his ex-wife, a native of the Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain, includes a Southern California custody aspect. According to a recent report in the Philadelphia Daily News Jeff Walding’s ex-wife, Deana Jahani, was living in Southern California until last summer when she traveled to Bahrain with the couple’s 8 year old daughter.
International custody battles can be among the most complex, and emotionally draining, California child custody disputes. A recent high profile case pitting an American father against his Brazilian former in-laws took five years to resolve. In Walding and Jahani’s case, the Daily News reports, the couple had been awarded joint custody with their daughter residing with her mother and attending school in Southern California. Last summer, Jahani took the girl to Bahrain for a vacation. Walding told the paper that his ex made repeated excuses (such as flight delays) for failing to return to the United States, before emailing him at Christmas to announce that she planned to stay in the Gulf. Both Walding and Jahani have set up facebook pages seeking to enlist supporters for their respective sides in the custody dispute.
Walding has filed a family court petition to be declared parent of primary residence. The petition also seeks to bar his ex-wife from traveling overseas with their daughter without his permission – a stipulation that, of course, would only be enforceable were Jahani to return to the United States in the first place. The paper reports that New Jersey courts denied a similar request at the time of the couple’s divorce in 2007, despite Jahani having already, at that time, taken the girl to Bahrain for 10 months on one occasion. As the Brazilian case highlights, however, even winning such a judgment can be only the first step in an exceedingly long and complex legal process for a parent to win and obtain custody of a child abducted by an ex-spouse.
If you are a Southern California parent who finds him or herself in this tragic position (or fears that as a marriage dissolves you may), consulting with a Los Angeles or Orange County child custody lawyer at the earliest opportunity is imperative. Fighting for your rights in California family court can be difficult, especially for fathers. A Costa Mesa father’s rights attorney is an essential ally as you navigate our complex, and often confusing, legal system. With international custody cases sometimes taking years to resolve, it is important to have a California custody attorney who will fight for you working on your behalf from Day One.
Philadelphia Daily News: N.J. dad fears custody battle is at point of no return