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What to do about parental abductions

It's the stuff of nightmares — a non-custodial parent absconding with the kids. This sometimes occurs after contentious custody proceedings result in a reduction in time spent with the children for the non-custodial parent.

Parental kidnappings straddle the line of criminal and civil matters. Police are often reluctant to intervene in such cases, determining, "It's a civil matter." But parental kidnappings sometimes end tragically, so the custodial parent must continue to push for justice even when law enforcement isn't eager to eager to jump into the fray.

A thorough investigation of parental kidnapping often includes Federal Bureau of Investigation authorities once state lines have been crossed.

Once the children have been found and returned, modifications to the child custody arrangements will be necessary to prevent a recurrence. While judges may suspend or eliminate custody and visitation rights entirely after a parental abduction, sometimes they will just impose more restrictions, such as allowing only supervised visitation. Your family law attorney can petition the court to amend the custody orders to reflect the severity of the situation.

If the custody battle crosses international borders, this is indeed a worst case scenario. International treaties like the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction could apply in these cases depending on which country the non-custodial parent has taken the children. Your New York attorney and the federal authorities can advise you further on these matters.

An international abduction can take a long time to resolve when the country to which the parent flees is not on good diplomatic terms with the United States. It is indeed a nerve-wracking time for parents, and some may choose to employ their own private investigators during these times.

Source: Findlaw, "What Legal Remedies are Available if a Parent Abducts a Child?," accessed Feb. 17, 2016

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