Return of Child to Custodial Parent

Judy called the office for a free consultation and she explained that a friend, or former friend of hers had her child and was refusing to return the child to her.  Judy was a young, unmarried mother who was down on her luck.  Judy befriended an older lady and eventually moved into the older lady's home where she lived with her then 4 year old daughter.  The older lady was very helpful to Judy and did not always demand rent from Judy and would look after Judy's child when Judy was at work.  At that time Judy, her daughter, the older lady and another roommate were living in a home in Douglas, Georgia.  It was during 2003. Judy was originally from the Northeast United States, but had found her way down to Georgia after high school in New Jersey.  Judy became pregnant and out of shame left her home and avoided contact with her parents and family in New Jersey.  She lived with the older lady for a couple of years and they periodically relocated to different towns in South Georgia.  Judy eventually regained contact with her family in New Jersey and they begged her to return home.  Eventually Judy decided it was time to go home.  Judy left for New Jersey in 2005 and needing some time to get a job and an apartment there, she left her child with the older lady in South Georgia.  After about two weeks Judy returned to Georgia to get her child, but when she arrived at the home it was vacant with no signs of the older lady, the roommate or her child.  She contacted the local police, but to no avail. This was the beginning of a three year saga for Judy.  She hired investigators to search for the woman and from time to time would pick up leads on her whereabouts.  Leads that took her to North Florida, Alabama and Louisiana, but each time she arrived the older lady and the child were gone and the police authorities were unable to find the child in their various jurisdictions. Sometimes the police would tell Judy that there was nothing they could do because Judy had voluntarily left the child with the woman and that as such it was not a "child abduction" case. In 2008 she received a tip that the woman and her child were in the Metro Atlanta area, and this is when Judy contacted me.  The private investigator Judy had hired did an excellent job and was able to provide us with the residential address of the lady, the make and model of her vehicle and the license plate numbers, and the name of the school that the now 7 year old child attended. I immediately prepared an Emergency Motion to Return the Child to the Custodial Parent.  We conducted an ex parte hearing with a Judge in Fulton County and the Judge entered an order directing the woman to release the child to Judy and enlisting the Fulton County Sheriff's Department to extract the child from the elementary school. The Sheriff's Department went to the school and gained custody of the child and took the child to the police station.  Judy and I then went there and she was reunited with her child after an unbelievable three year ordeal.  The older lady was never served with the petition as she had fled the home and jurisdiction of the court.  Judy was not interested in pursing further prosecution of the lady and she and her child returned to New Jersey, reunited at last.  I heard from Judy a year or two later and she explained that her child was doing well, that it was as if they had never been apart, and that she had not heard from the lady.