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What are my options in the event of parental kidnapping?

It's a scenario that no parent wants to consider, but what if the unthinkable happens to your family? Your ex-spouse has taken your child and disappeared, in direct violation of a custody agreement. Your head is spinning, but there are important steps to take and options to prevent the same from happening again.

After the child is located, you will be able to work with your lawyer and the court system to ensure the safety of your child. Setting limits for your family is going to be the important focus of your co-parenting now. Here are a few recommendations for you in the event of a parental kidnapping.

Know when to call law enforcement

When should you call law enforcement if the other parent abducted your child? Right away. Be sure to let the authorities handle the location and apprehension of your child. This protects you physically and legally, and prevents further conflict with the other parent at a very sensitive time. Parental abduction violates many laws, and involves local authorities as well as the FBI. Let the justice system do what it is designed to do, which is to help you get your child back.

Petition to change the custody agreement

Once the child has been located, you will be able to petition to change the custody agreement. If you have been sharing custody of your child, then the kidnapping is likely in violation of the custody agreement. Therefore, the actions taken by your ex will weaken his or her standing in the eyes of the court, enabling you to seek full custody if you choose. The custody can change temporarily, or even permanently. This will depend on the individual case and the judges involved.

Extenuating circumstances

Should your ex remove the child and take him or her to another country, this will complicate the matter significantly. Since the local and federal laws will not apply in another country, the scope of the authorities may be limited. If the other parent has taken the child to a place that follows The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, the authorities and leaders may put pressure on your ex, which can lead to the child's eventual return.

In any case of parental abduction, it is important to remain as calm as possible so that you can make the best choices to get your child back. Work with professionals and authorities so that you don't further jeopardize the likelihood of seeing your child again.

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Joseph Brophy Cordell, Attorney at Law
115 1/2 West King Street
Martinsburg, WV 25401

Phone: 304-707-0673
Fax: 304-263-3378
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