Parental kidnapping, the act of a parent violating a custody order or concealing the location of a child, is one thing that every newly separated or divorced parent worries about. Each year nearly 800,000 children are kidnapped and approximately 200,000 of these children are abducted by their parents. Often influenced by a fear of losing custody, a parent may attempt to conceal the location of a child from the other parent. In some cases, the parent kidnapping a child may even try to take the child to another country. Knowing what to do if your ex will not return your child can make a frightening situation slightly easier to manage.
Check Your Custody Order
If you have only recently received a custody order, it is always good idea to review your custody and visitation order prior to making any decisions. It is possible for one or both parents to confuse the visitation dates or times when a custody order is new. When an ex has taken the children without having a court ordered agreement, in place things can become more complicated. Always be sure that your custody agreement and visitation schedule is approved by the court before the other parent leaves with your child. Letting a child visit the other parent without a custody agreement in place could lead to serious problems when it is time for your child to return home.
Contact Your Ex
Miscommunications occur as do emergencies, making contacting your ex prior to making any decisions is advisable. The last thing you want to do is jump to the wrong conclusion about an ex running late. Call or text your ex to find out where he or she is and also consider contacting your child directly. When reaching out to your ex, remain calm and avoid making threats or otherwise telling him or her what your next steps will be. If you do not trust yourself to remain calm during a telephone conversation, try texting or reaching out via social media. Alternatively, have a third party such as your attorney contact your ex on your behalf.
Talk to an Attorney
Once you have reached out to your ex and reviewed your child support order, contact an attorney. Either the attorney who helped you during your initial custody filing or another lawyer with family law experience can advise you on how to proceed. Depending on the situation, you may be able to pursue a motion of contempt for violating the court order. An attorney can also give you advice regarding contacting the police and protecting your child in the future, especially if domestic violence has occurred.
Vayman & Teitelbaum
A child custody and visitation attorney can help you determine the best way to proceed. The compassionate attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum are able to help you through any difficult custody or visitation related issue. Our team can go over your existing court order with you and discuss what options are available. With four offices located throughout the Atlanta metro area, we can provide you with the legal representation you need. Contact us at 678-736-7700 to schedule a consultation today.