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Child custody dispute at heart of missing Minnesota girls case

Police in Lakeville say a network of people are helping a mother hide her two daughters in defiance of a child custody order. The girls have been missing since April 2013, perhaps thanks to the shadowy “Protective Parent” movement, which believes family law courts in Minnesota and across the country place children in the hands of abusive parents.

This case has been making headlines recently, so our readers may have heard about the missing girls, who are now around 17 and 15 years old. As the Star Tribune reports, their mother also recently disappeared for several weeks after being charged with three felonies connected with her daughters’ vanishing. Her attorney claims that the mother does not know where her daughters are, but hopes police never find them.

During the child custody case back in 2013, the daughters said their father abused them. They told a local news station that they wanted to live with their mother. But a psychologist said that their mother had “brainwashed” them to testify against their father, and the judge ruled there was no credible evidence of abuse. The judge granted sole custody to the father in November 2013, but by then the girls had been missing for months.

Very little is known about the “Protective Parent” movement. It appears to be an underground network of private residences used for hiding children from custodial parents and the police. A Lakeville police officer working the case believes the girls have been moved multiple times. Officers have searched three homes of people they believe are involved in the girls’ disappearance.

Few child custody disputes in Minnesota go this far or involve criminal charges. But the best interests of your children are always a serious matter, one that requires the assistance of a knowledgeable family law attorney to protect.

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