Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Parental abductions common in Pima Co., US


TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Authorities are still searching for two missing girls in southern Arizona.

They are 11-month-old Estella Lovemore and 2-year-old Caroline Oddo.

Estella has been missing since Sunday.

Caroline went missing back in November.

Tucson police believe Caroline's father, Luis Palacio, took her.

He is wanted for custodial interference in that case.

Marana police are calling him a person of interest in Estella's disappearance.

They say Palacio is the boyfriend of Estella's mother, Danielle Lovemore.

Marana police have issued an arrest warrant for Danielle, whom they say took Estella from a family birthday party.

They say Child Protective Services had removed Estella from her home in November and she was in foster care.

If you have any information that can help police, you're asked to call 911 or 88-CRIME.

In each missing child case the charge is custodial interference.

It's a problem that authorities say they see all too often.

KOLD News 13 spoke with two legal experts in Tucson who say parental abduction is very common.

Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall says, "Parental abduction is the most common form of abduction of a child. People do not necessarily have to be as concerned at all about stranger abduction. It happens very rarely, even though we are constantly made aware of it through Amber Alerts, etc. It is extremely rare compared to parental abduction that happens far more frequently, not only in this jurisdiction, but across the United States."

Parental child abductions were once even more common than they are now.

Family Law Attorney Kathleen McCarthy says that's because of, what she calls, holes in the court system.

"We didn't have the statutes to deal with it. In response to, I think the growing problem of parents thinking they could get away with basically depriving the other parent of access or they could do that with some kind of impunity...we saw the emergence of custodial interference statutes," McCarthy says.

Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall says passage of the "Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act" helped cut down significantly on the number of parental abductions in the United States.

The act requires each state to enforce child custody court orders from the other states.

"So what used to happen, a lot actually, was a parent would remove a child from this jurisdiction and take him to California or another state and then have a court there change the custody, and that's not permitted any more," LaWall says.

Custodial interference is a crime, a felony that carries a penalty.

"All the state would have to show is that the person who has taken the child has deprived either the other parent or, in one of the cases here, an institution which would be CPS or the state, from exercising their legal right to time with the child or access to the child," McCarthy says.

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