Child Kidnapping – Is the Danger at Home?
When children go missing in America, the culprit is usually a family member, not a stranger.
The majority of child abductions occur during custody disputes. They often arise because one parent fears losing custody and preemptively takes the child. Other times, after the divorce has been settled, one parent will be unhappy with the custody ruling and will seize the child.
No parent has the right to circumvent a custody order by taking a child away.
How Common Is Family Kidnapping?
According to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), of the 750,000 child kidnappings every year, roughly half are family kidnappings, which normally means one parent has abducted the child (although in rare cases it is another family member, such as a grandparent).
What Can You Do in a Contentious Custody Case?
If you are going through a contentious divorce and worry that your spouse might consider abduction, you need to take action immediately to protect your children. You have a number of options open to you, starting with contacting the local police if there has been an actual threat made.
You will strongly want to consider a restraining order or protection order against your spouse. Securing a restraining order can be challenging, as judges are naturally reluctant to deny a parent the right to see his or her children. It will be necessary to document that your spouse is a clear threat to the children. Any supporting evidence you can supply, including emails, text messages, video recordings, or photographs, will go a long way to supporting your case.
What If Your Child Isn’t Returned on Time?
If your child has not been returned according to the visitation agreement, it may be necessary to go to court to secure an order to have the child returned. Emergency orders can typically be granted within hours with an experienced attorney working on your behalf. With order in hand, you will be able to enlist a law enforcement officer to return your children to you.
In extreme circumstances, offending parents take their children across state lines, or even flee the country. This can make it much more challenging to get your kids back. It becomes even more imperative to have a family law attorney who can help you navigate the various jurisdictions and secure your child’s return.
If there’s a chance that your spouse will abduct your child, Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C., can help. We handle many issues involving children, including parental kidnapping cases, and understand how to quickly and effectively protect families. Call us today at (858) 458-9500 to schedule a free consultation.