Mom Skips Custody Court Date, Ends up a Missing Person

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Nov 24, 2023 | 0 Comments

It's generally not a good idea to miss multiple court appearances related to child abuse accusations, cross state lines with your children, and hide from authorities. A Virginia woman recently came to national attention for this string of events.

For parents, any allegation that could affect their parental rights can be stressful. It can be difficult to react logically or trust that the system has your or your child's best interests at heart.

Lento's Family Law Team helps parents and guardians throughout New Jersey fight for custody. We know the value of the parent-child relationship and help our clients fight accusations. Call us at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.

Fled to Avoid Allegations

The Virginia woman, Lauren Cook, missed multiple court dates. Cook then left the state with her three children. Family members claimed she and the children were missing, but her husband disputed this claim. He stated that his wife had full custody and could take the children across state lines. He also said that his wife and children were safe.

Why Cook had a scheduled hearing hasn't been officially released, as juvenile records are confidential. In an interview with a news outlet, Cook stated that she faced allegations of child abuse and an emergency removal order. She and her husband believe the allegations are false, and she ran to avoid having her children removed from her custody.

In October, Cook and her children were removed from the missing persons database. Law enforcement claimed they had sufficient evidence that Cook and her children were safe and not under any duress. It's unknown if Cook still faces charges of child abuse.

Don't Run

Cook states she left the state and went into hiding based on legal advice. Regardless of the truth of this statement, parents should generally avoid crossing state lines or keeping children from the other parent. In New Jersey, such actions could be considered parental kidnapping.

Parental kidnapping is a crime. If convicted of kidnapping, parents face fines and prison time. Even if not convicted, parents may face reduced custody or visitation time.

Emergency Orders

Courts issue emergency custody orders when they believe a child is at risk or otherwise in danger. In New Jersey, emergency custody orders circumvent the normal custody process because of the need to remove children from a situation or home as soon as possible.

Parents facing emergency custody orders may be understandably stressed or upset. They should avoid acting in ways that would make courts question their fitness to parent or suggest that they are a potential danger to their children.

Defend Your Rights

When allegations threaten a parent's custody and relationship with their child, parents may act from a place of emotion. Parents should rely on the legal system, difficult as it may be. Fair or not, breaking the law may only serve to buttress the claims against you or create a new ground for denying or limiting your custody time.

The best way to combat allegations of child abuse or an emergency custody order is to fight the charges. The accused should work with a lawyer to build a case based on evidence that disproves the claims made against them and their ability as a parent.

When you're facing allegations, Lento Law Firm's Family Law Team can help. We can help you continue to obey the law while you fight the charges. Call us at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings! He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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