Police in Maine have taken a 32-year-old mother into custody after she failed to return her three sons to their father following a visit. The mother and father have joint custody of the children, but the children live in Vernon, Connecticut, with the father. The mother has visitation rights. She had recently moved back to Connecticut after spending time living in Maine.
On Monday, May 12, the father contacted police to tell them that their mother had not returned the children to his care. Authorities issued an Amber Alert on Tuesday morning, but they had located the children by that afternoon and canceled the alert. The three boys, a 9-year-old and 7-year-old twins, were at a hotel with their mother in Bangor. They were apparently unharmed, and police will return them to the care of their father.
Last November, the mother and father appeared in court to settle the custody case. According to relatives of the mother, she may have mental health issues, and police say she might have been living in her car. She may face criminal charges.
If parents are awarded joint custody, it means that they will share responsibility for decisions regarding the child's education, religious instruction and healthcare. As in this case, the child will likely live with one parent the majority of the time, and the other parent will have visitation rights. A parent could potentially be denied custody and visitation rights if they have a history of abuse.
When deciding child custody, a court will consider what is in the best interest of the child. They may take into account the child's relationship with each parent, the parents' relationship with one another and any special needs the child has. The child's preferences can also factor into the court's decision.
Source: CBS New York, "Police: 3 Missing Connecticut Boys, Mother Found In Maine", May 13, 2014