Orange County Child Custody Dispute Ends in Fines, Jail for Parent and Grandparents

Following-up a story I first wrote about last October, the Los Angeles Times now reports that a father who abducted his children from in front of their Anaheim home in the heat of an Orange County child custody dispute has been ordered, along with his parents, to reimburse city and Orange County officials for expenses associated with searching for his sons. Finding the boys, ages two and four, cost the city of Anaheim, Orange County and other governmental agencies around $150,000. As I noted last fall, at one point the search entailed an Amber Alert in every state between California and Texas.

As the Associated Press notes, the children’s father, Abraham Fernandez, and grandparents, Louis and Elizabeth Mendoza, recently pled guilty to “two felony counts of depriving custody of a child or right to visitation.” Fernandez and his father were sentenced to 270 days apiece in jail, according to the Times. Elizabeth, who did not participate in the actual abduction but sheltered Fernandez and his boys at her home in Texas, was sentenced to 90 days.

The fines levied against Fernandez and his parents are a stark reminder that however badly an Orange County father or mother feels their rights have been infringed, kidnapping one’s children is never the answer. Doing so endangers the children and immediately puts a parent at odds with the law. This, in turn, makes it difficult, if not impossible, to win later Orange County child custody cases once they reach California family court.

By far the better solution is to consult carefully with an Orange County child custody attorney. An experienced lawyer can offer detailed and timely advice on the best way to defend your rights and maintain the relationship with your children that you deserve.

Los Angeles Times: Father, grandparents must pay $150,000 cost of searching for missing boys in Anaheim

AP via the San Francisco Chronicle: Father, grandparents must pay $150K for search