Understanding Parental Abduction
According to StopFamilyAbductionsNow.org, more than 200,000 American families struggle with the devastation of familial abduction every year. According to the legal definition, familial abduction usually occurs when a parent kidnaps his or her own child for a significant length of time. Although some parents abduct their children in order to protect them from abusive family members, other parents and family members abduct their children for far less noble purposes. Whether driven by fear, anger, revenge, or another self-focused emotion, some parental and familial abductions are truly dangerous occurrences.
The Basics of Parental Abduction
There are essentially two kinds of parental abductions, those which are used to protect children from violence and abuse, and those which are used to keep children away from a parent for other reasons. Although one motivation is understandable and one is generally not, it is important to understand that the law does not differentiate between the two. As a result, parents who are considering depriving their child’s other parent of court-ordered custody or visitation time without expressed permission from the court should understand that they are placing themselves in a precarious legal position. Unless you are doing so for an emergency reason and then immediately contacting your attorney and law enforcement, you should do what you can to avoid behaving like a parental abductor as defined by law.
If you or your child is facing an abusive situation, it is almost always better to contact a child custody lawyer to seek out orders of protection and child custody modification than it is to abduct your child. Parental kidnapping can leave your own child custody rights in jeopardy if your child’s other parent challenges your behavior and tries to paint it as evidence of parental alienation. Under this circumstance, you could find your custodial rights being minimized or even taken away. You could also face criminal consequences for parental abduction. Please think twice and seek legal counsel before depriving your child’s other parent of court-ordered access to your child. If you must do so as a result of an emergency, contact an attorney and law enforcement as soon as you possibly can in order to avoid charges of parental abduction.
If Your Child Was Abducted
If your child’s other parent has abducted your child or you believe he or she may be at risk for doing so, please contact an attorney. The law takes the custodial rights of parents seriously, and infringing upon them in any significant way is cause for concern. Depending on the situation at hand, you may benefit from a child custody modification or enforcement action. An attorney will be able to advise you of your legal options once you explain your unique circumstances. Unless you believe that your child is in immediate danger, it is generally a good idea to speak with an attorney before speaking with law enforcement, only because you do not want to appear irrationally reactive to the court. If you are in doubt as to whether your situation is immediately serious, though, by all means contact law enforcement and then an attorney.