According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, in 2015, there were 460,699 missing-child cases that were reported to the FBI's National Crime Information Center. The Polly Klaas Foundation states that 9% of all missing children are taken by a parent in a custody dispute. If you believe that your child has been abducted by the noncustodial parent, there are some things you should be aware of.
What Constitutes Parental Abduction?
Parental abduction is determined by three factors: the legal parental rights the offending parent has, whether or not any child-custody orders exist in the courts, and what the intention of the offending parent is. If you are in the midst of a divorce or custody case and neither parent has been awarded custody of the child, that means both of you have equal rights regarding the child. However, if you have been awarded custody and the other parent snatches the child, this is grounds for them to be charged with parental abduction.
Reasons Parental Abduction Occurs
When it comes to parental abduction, there are a few reasons that it happens. Sometimes the noncustodial parent kidnaps their child as leverage to reconcile with the other parent. Other times the noncustodial parent will snatch their child as a means of hurting or punishing the other parent. Other times the noncustodial parent will abduct their child because they are afraid of losing visitation rights with the child.
Federal Laws Regarding Parental Abduction
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act is a federal law that has been enacted in all 49 states as well as the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. Currently, Massachusetts is the only state that has not adopted the Act. The Act is designed to give jurisdiction to the home state of the child regarding child-custody cases. The Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act provides state courts with certain guidelines to adhere to when it comes to divorce proceedings and child-custody disputes. The Act is designed to help state courts identify families that are at risk of child abduction and prevent abductions from happening.
State Laws Regarding Parental Abduction
When it comes to parental abduction, the majority of states just use their general kidnapping rules. However, a couple of states have specifically amended their laws to target parental abduction. For instance, Michigan Penal Code states that it is a felony for a parent to forcibly, spitefully, or illegally to take their child with the intent to assume lawful control. The Texas Penal Code states that it is a felony if a noncustodial parent kidnaps their child with the intent to interfere with custody arrangements already in place.
The world of parental abductions is a complex matter due to the fact that it is a parent taking the child and not some stranger off the street. Contact a law firm such as Baudler, Maus, Forman, Kritzer & Wagner, LLP for more information and for help with your case.