As we near the end of the holiday season, many children of divorced parents will be heading back home after some time spent with their non-custodial parent. It’s not uncommon for parents who don’t see enough of their kids all year to take them for a week or two during their winter vacation.
Sadly, this is also the time of year when parental kidnappings spike. Sometimes, one parent takes their children and does not return them as scheduled. Even when parents share custody, a parent with family or other connections in another country (often their own birth country) will take their children back there in the hope that they can avoid returning them.
Parental Kidnapping Is a Growing Problem
Of course, there are laws against this. The Hague Convention is a treaty signed by a number of countries. It designates procedures to expedite the return of children who have been illegally taken abroad to their rightful parent. If a parent abducts a child within the U.S., law enforcement will work to find the child and return him or her.
One family law attorney notes the toll that these kidnappings take on the children caught in the middle. And particularly during what should be a joyous season. He says, “I’ve picked up kids many times. You sit outside the house with the police and the child is picked up. On one occasion I had to take custody of the child until the dad flew here from Brazil.”
Potential trauma to the child should be reason enough for a parent not to consider violating the custody agreement. However, these parents can face criminal charges and loss of custody rights as well.
Solutions Do Exists
If you have issues with your custody agreement or don’t believe that your co-parent should have custody or visitation, the place to take that up is with the court. Your family law attorney can help you present your case.
If you’re on the other side of the equation, with your ex taking your child, it’s essential to notify your attorney and law enforcement immediately. In either case, you should never take matters into your own hands.
Source: Bravo TV, “Custody Kidnapping” Is a Huge Problem Over the Holidays,” Marianne Garvey, Dec. 23, 2016