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Parental abductions: how do they happen?

An alarming number of children and adolescents are abducted each year in the United States, and a large percentage of those abducted never return home again. Contrary to what many might assume, some of these kidnappers are the parents of the children themselves. Even if the suspect is the natural or adoptive parent, Michigan laws state that taking and retaining a child with the intent to conceal the child from any other parent or legal guardian is a crime that could lead to both crippling court fines and imprisonment.

The Detroit News covered one of the many parental kidnappings that occurred in Michigan in 2014, showing in an article the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs estimate that more than 1,000 American children were victims of international parental abduction in the previous year. While the number of American children who were reported to have been kidnapped by a parent did, in fact, drop between the years 2009-13, chances of children returning home remain slim. The Detroit News also shares expert information on how most child abductions take place:

  • Without the other parent's consent or court order, a parent takes a child out of the country
  • One parent travels to another country with the children, without informing the other parent that he or she does not plan to return
  • Familes travel overseas, where one parent accuses the other of domestic violence, has officials arrest that parent and petitions the court for child custody      

According to The Detroit News article, most international abductions arise from parental disputes and the fight for restraining orders and child custody. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services clarifies the varying types of child custody and parent time, pointing out the instances of child custody violations in which the court has a right to intervene. In addition to abiding by court ordered parent and custody time and support payments, parents must also adhere to returning the child to the other legal guardian after visitation hours are over. The MDHHS also states that if the other parent refuses to return the child as specified in the parenting time order, a parent may contact police or the prosecuting attorney and ask to file a parental kidnapping charge.   




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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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