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Parental kidnapping concerns and your divorce

It's a parent's worst nightmare to find out that the other parent fled with his or her children. Regardless of who takes the children against the court order, it's against the law. Parental kidnapping deprives one parent from seeing his or her children and violates law.

Fortunately, if you believe your ex-spouse is thinking of fleeing with your children, you can seek help from the courts to prevent that from happening. You'll need evidence that your ex is likely to flee with your children, either because of threats or because of his or her actions.

What is parental kidnapping?

Parental kidnapping is when one parent takes a child away from the other parent against a court order. It also includes withholding the child from the other parent and maliciously depriving a custodian of the right to custody.

When there is a court order, both you and your spouse are bound by it. If either of you fails to follow the court order, the police and courts may get involved in your child custody case.

What can you do if your ex is withholding visitation?

It depends on the situation you're in. It's typically a crime to withhold a child from another parent who is meant to have custody longer than 24 hours past that time. It's also a crime to withhold a child in direct interference with a court order. If you can show that your ex-spouse is willingly and intentionally withholding your children from you, you can pursue help from the court.

What can you do if your spouse flees with your children?

It's important to point out that it's only parental kidnapping if the time away is not during the parent's visitation time. If it is, you typically can't object to a weekend away when a parent intends to return your children to your custody upon return.

If the parent does not plan to return, that's different. That is an emergency situation, and it's vital to get the authorities involved as quickly as possible. It is much easier to retrieve your children as long as they are in the United States. If your ex-spouse takes them out of the country, it may take much more time and the use of the Hague Convention to get your children back.

Parental kidnapping is a serious crime that affects many families in the United States. If you are worried about custody in your situation, consider speaking with the court to make sure your rights as a parent and custodian are protected.

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