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Is parental abduction actually kidnapping?

You and your ex have joint custody of your 3-year-old child. One day, your ex misses the drop-off time. You are annoyed, but you wait it out.

Your ex never shows up. Irate, you storm over to his or her apartment the next day. A roommate shrugs and tells you that your ex is gone. He or she left Florida, deciding to move closer to family on the other side of the country. Your ex took your child.

This is illegal. Though calling it "parental abduction" does help show the difference between this and a random kidnapping by a stranger, don't be fooled. This is fundamentally the same thing. It is illegal. It likely violates your parental rights and your child custody agreement. The authorities, including the police and the FBI, may get involved.

The law is on your side. A parental relocation itself isn't illegal, but your ex can't do it without getting it cleared by the court and certainly not without telling you. There are steps that have to be followed, and the court may decide that the other parent isn't allowed to move because it would make it impossible for you to see your child.

Parents often do not think of abducting their own child as the same as kidnapping, thinking it's far less serious. It's their own kid, after all. While the emotional reasons behind this shed some light on that mindset, it's important to realize that a very real crime is being committed against the other parent. There are ramifications, including a potential loss of custody rights.

If this happens to you, be sure you know your legal options. Don't pursue the other parent on your own, but check into the legal steps you can take and how the authorities will help you rectify the situation and ensure that it doesn't happen again.

Source: Findlaw, "What Legal Remedies are Available if a Parent Abducts a Child?," accessed Nov. 17, 2017

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