International child custody dispute puts Indiana mom in national spotlight

Child custody battles can pit the two most important people in their children's lives against each other to the detriment of those children. However, when the parents are from separate countries that do not necessarily work hand-in-hand when it comes to child custody determinations, the battle can be even more devastating. An Indiana woman is now in Cyprus, trying to gain custody of her two children who have lived there for more than two years with their father, a citizen of Cyprus. The parents have each turned to the courts of their native countries to attempt to win the right to parent their daughter and son.

Two courts decide one issue

According to Indystar.com, the saga began with the couple's marriage in 2004. The two met while attending university in Arizona, married and then began their family while living in Indiana. The two children were born in South Bend and have American citizenship. The couple took their children to Cyprus for an extended stay in 2009. During that time, the couple's relationship began to fall apart. In 2010, the mother returned to Indiana with the children, and she filed for divorce. Her husband filed kidnapping charges against her, and the State Department recommended that she send her children back to Cyprus. In early 2011, she allowed her children to return to the island nation with their father.

Since that time, an Indiana court granted her a divorce and custody of her children. In the same time span, a Cyprus court granted custody of the children to the father and visitation to the mother; the court also ordered the mother to pay support to the father. The children have remained with the father in Cyprus, and the mother has attempted to visit them repeatedly since then, claiming that the father often thwarts her attempts to see her young daughter and son.

In April, the mother moved to Cyprus. According to her, Cyprus court officials and a child welfare worker there suggested she move to the country to be closer to her children and engage in her rights to visitation. The mother has applied for the right to work in Cyprus, but has not yet received a work permit. Since she is not employed, she is unable to pay support, and a court has issued an arrest warrant for her on grounds of failure to pay. Although the foreign court ordered visitation for the mother, she claims that when she tries to see her children, she is refused by the father and his parents, with whom he resides. The father, in an interview with Indystar.com, states that the mother has chosen not to live with the children and that her move to Cyprus was spurred by an attempt to make money through monetary donations to a foundation she set up to raise awareness and support for her cause.

Although this story has not yet come to a resolution, there was a similar case in Indiana earlier this year involving an American mother and a Greek father. The mother in that custody dispute has returned to Indiana from Greece with her son. The United States has charged the father in that situation with international kidnapping.

Do you need help with a child custody issue?

Not every child custody case is as complicated and difficult as these two cases. In many instances, parents work together for the sake of their children. If you are trying to gain custody of your child, contact an experienced family law attorney to help you determine what steps to take.