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What Is Parental Child Abduction?

by | Jun 27, 2024 | Family Law |

Imagine the heart-wrenching scenario of a parent pacing nervously in their home, glancing repeatedly at the clock, each minute feeling like an eternity. A normal parenting time exchange has gone wrong, and the other parent has not returned the child as agreed. This is the start of a nightmare for many parents who have experienced parental child abduction. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that 58% of all Amber Alerts issued are for parental abduction cases. But what exactly is parental child abduction? And why does it happen?

Defining Parental Child Abduction

Parental child abduction refers to a situation where one parent takes a child without the other parent’s consent or against a court order. The abductor may take the child to another state or country, making it difficult for the other parent to locate and reunite with their child.

This type of abduction is different from stranger abductions, where the perpetrator has no relation to the child, and there is usually a ransom involved. In cases of parental child abduction, the motive behind taking the child can vary greatly.

Why Parental Abduction Happens

Parental abduction can happen for various reasons, including unresolved custody disputes or emotional distress from a difficult divorce. In some cases, the abducting parent may have limited access to their child and resort to extreme measures out of desperation. Other times, the abducting parent may believe that they are acting in the best interest of the child and removing them from an abusive or unsafe situation. However, any unauthorized removal of a child is considered parental abduction and is a violation of both civil and criminal laws.

The Impact on Children

Parental abduction can have lasting effects on the children involved, causing confusion, trauma, and feelings of abandonment. They are also likely to suffer from disrupted education, separation anxiety, and a strained relationship with the parent who took them. In severe cases, children may even be at risk of physical or emotional abuse by the abducting parent.

Legal Consequences

In Michigan, the legal consequences of parental child abduction are severe and can lead to significant criminal and civil penalties. Under Michigan law, parental kidnapping is considered a felony offense which can result in substantial fines and imprisonment of up to five years. Additionally, violating custody orders through abduction may lead to losing parental rights and custody privileges, making it increasingly difficult for the abducting parent to regain legal access to the child. 

Preventing Parental Abduction

One of the most effective ways to prevent parental abduction is to establish clear custody agreements and court orders that outline each parent’s rights and responsibilities. If one parent believes there is a risk of abduction, they can also request specific measures such as supervised visitation or travel restrictions in court. Keeping open communication and addressing any underlying issues between both parents can also help prevent potential abductions.

In addition, educating children about their safety and empowering them with the knowledge of what to do in case of an emergency can also be crucial in preventing abduction. Parents should have ongoing conversations with their children about safety precautions and who they can trust if they ever feel unsafe.

Safeguard Your Child Now

Parental child abduction is a grave issue with significant legal and emotional ramifications. Parents can better safeguard their children and themselves by understanding its causes, consequences, and prevention strategies. If you find yourself facing this distressing situation or fear it may happen, consulting with a knowledgeable family law attorney is essential.

At the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins, our seasoned team offers the guidance and representation you need. We have years of experience in complex family law cases, ensuring your rights and your child’s well-being are protected. Contact us today to discuss your case and explore your legal options.