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Borders of the heart: Queens man faces tough custody battle

Whenever family issues enter the legal arena, emotions are bound to run high. This is especially true when the stakes are elevated by complex immigration issues. These are the high stakes in a child custody case facing a family in Queens.

The family's story begins in 2006 with the birth of the couple's daughter in their native Mexico. Shortly thereafter, the baby girl's father illegally crossed into the United States. The daughter joined him later with the aid of smugglers that he paid to transport the girl. It was the couple's dream that they would be able to provide a better life for their daughter by raising her in the United States.

Problems soon surfaced when the mother unsuccessfully attempted to join her family, now residing in Queens, in 2010. Unfortunately, she was detained by U.S. border officials, after paying to be brought across the Arizona border.

The emotional saga eventually became more complex as the girl's father stopped sending child support to his wife and fathered a boy with another woman. The girl's mother, in response to her predicament, sued for custody of her daughter, wishing for her to return to Mexico.

This week the young girl was ordered by the court to return to her mother in Mexico. Judge Jack Weinstein, presiding over the case, described the situation as "tragic and heart-rending," but insisted the ruling was based on international laws. Additionally, the court ruled that the agreement to bring the baby to the U.S. was based on the safe arrival of both parents, strengthening the mother's case.

New York parents struggling through the divorce process more than likely can relate to this couple's plight. While international laws had to be considered in this specific situation, cases within New York generally take into consideration critical factors, such as the child's best interests.

Source: New York Daily News, "Judge in immigrant custody battle orders 5yo girl returned to mom in Mexico; 'illegal' dad stays in Queens with new girlfriend," John Marzulli, Jan. 9, 2012

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