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Parental kidnapping can be devastating. There is nothing quite so frightening as arriving home to find that your house is empty and the children are gone. There is no note. The other parent of your children has disappeared with the children, leaving no forwarding address. If you and your spouse have not yet begun a divorce, there is no temporary custody order in place. There are serious implications, in Michigan, as in many other States, if the parents reside more than 100 miles apart at the time the case is filed. Then, the so-called "100-mile-rule" does not apply. As a result, for the parent who becomes the non-custodial parent, it is difficult to maintain a solid parent-child relationship because of the distance between the non-custodial parent and the children.

If the parents have never been married, the situation is even more complicated. The laws regarding establishment of parentage are different in various States. However, where the parents have not married, usually absent a written agreement and a court order, the mother is deemed to have initial custody of the child or children. It's difficult for the left-behind father to establish his rights and to maintain a meaningful parent-child relationship.

Usually, the faster the left-behind parent acts, the easier it is to find the kidnapping parent and the children. In fact, delay can be highly prejudicial to your case. Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), the State with exclusive jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination is, absent some unusual facts, the State where the parents and children have lived for at least the last 6 months prior to a kidnapping. However, if the children are gone from your State for more than 6 months, the State where the abductor has taken them will become the children's "Home State" and will be the place where the initial custody determination is made. Many of your valuable parental custodial rights will suffer as a direct result. Additionally, it is easier and less expensive to litigate custody in your own forum than to litigate in a court that may be hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Sometimes, it's difficult to find the children. You may have some clues. But friends and relatives of the parent who has kidnapped the children may lie about what they know and/or deny knowledge about the whereabouts of the other parent and the children. Law enforcement agencies have no power to help the left-behind parent when there is no existing custody order. Of course, the longer the children are gone, the more difficult it can be to find them.

This is why an attorney who understands the power of the UCCJEA can be very helpful to the left-behind parent. The UCCJEA provides your local court with a legal basis for the entry of emergency temporary custody orders and other orders that will empower law enforcement agencies anywhere in the country to enter a home where they believe the children are being held and to take the children into protective custody. Then, the left-behind parent has the ability to get his or her local court, which will have jurisdiction, to sort out the custody and parenting time issues.

Jeanne M. Hannah is experienced in the use of the UCCJEA in recovering children who are victims of parental kidnapping. If you have questions about what your legal rights are, call Ms. Hannah at 231-275-5600 or email her at jeannemhannah [at] charter.net  Ms. Hannah can explain your options and can assist you and your local attorney no matter where you are located in the United States.

You can read articles that Jeanne M. Hannah has published on the topic of parental kidnapping here. You will also find other valuable information about parental kidnapping, including prevention, here.

 

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Practice Areas: Divorce, Child custody, Child Support, Spousal Support, Temporary Orders, Post-judgment modification, Property Settlements, Prenuptial / Postnuptial Agreements


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Jeanne M. Hannah, Family Lawyer
Postal address:5922 Deer Trail Drive, Traverse City, Michigan 49684 E-mail: jeannemhannah [at] charter.net
 

Practice Areas: Divorce  Custody  Parenting Time  Child Support Post-Judgment Modifications  Paternity  Adoption  Personal Protection Orders  Spousal Support  Property Distribution  Pre-Nuptial / Post-Nuptial Agreements Estate Planning Guardianships/Conservatorships  Neglect/Abuse Cases 

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Send mail to jeannemhannah [at] charter.net with questions or comments about this web site.

 

 

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