Do Your Fear Your Spouse will Take the Children?
(Provided by How to Win Child Custody)

What would you do if your spouse takes your children without warning and hides them from you? Where are they? Will you ever see them again? What can you do to prevent this from happening? What should you do if it happens anyway?

If you fear that your spouse will take your children and you will never see them again, donít wait to do something if you have evidence to back up your fears. Act quickly through your attorney if you suspect your spouse is going to grab them and run. Donít think youíre being paranoid and neglect to talk to your attorney because he or she will think youíre crazy. Share your concerns and reasons with your attorney, and let your attorney evaluate the situation.

Thereís no need to wait to get a temporary protective order that may keep your spouse from even considering such outrageous conduct. If your divorce has just started and there are no temporary orders, get an order specifying your custody rights. Establish limits for each of you on how far the children can be taken away from their home. For example, a simple order that you have the children each week from Sunday evening through Friday evening, and the children are not to be taken out of the county in which they live without first getting written consent or a court order, will give you a lot of protection. The restraining order on the summons in several states prohibiting taking the children out of the state without permission once the summons and petition has been served is somewhat of a help, but you will want a full custody order.

Yes, itís only a piece of paper, but it puts law enforcement and the courts squarely on your side, no questions asked. Youíll have clout with a court order.

The order has a deterrent effect. Your spouse is likely to think twice before pulling a stunt like this with a court order in effect. Your spouse has probably retained an attorney who will counsel him or her about the need to comply with the court order, and the consequences of disregarding it.

If your spouse takes your children out of the state, your attorney goes directly to the district attorney for nationwide assistance. The federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act applies to all interstate custody disputes, not only child snatching.

The district attorney, or your attorney, would then have access to the Parent Locator Service because a custody order was violated. The district attorney wherever your children may have been taken will cooperate in returning them.

Whether or not you have a written order, your spouse is subject to the Federal Fugitive Felon Act if he or she crosses state lines in violation of a felony child-snatching statute, such as Californiaís, once a state felony warrant is issued.

Wait, the situation could get worse. Your spouse could flee to another state and get a valid order there for the custody of your children. However, because you acted promptly in getting a custody order here, your spouseís conflicting custody order wonít be able to stand up against your order. The federal Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act requires states to recognize and enforce another stateís custody order if that state had jurisdiction, that is, the power to rule based on a significant connection of the child with that state, such as living there, in the first place. If you have the original custody order, your state is presumed to have continuing power.

Your spouse canít have any valid reason to refuse to sign an agreement, called a stipulation and order, which describes the temporary custody arrangement that you have worked out for your children. Sign and submit the agreement to the court without having a hearing or incurring any expense other than preparation. Once you personally serve your spouse with a copy when you get it back from court, you are ensured that he or she is bound by the order and can be criminally prosecuted if itís violated.
If you are concerned about your children being taken, but are unable to work out a temporary agreement, have your attorney schedule the custody and visitation issues for court hearing. Get restraining orders and a temporary custody order that take effect immediately and last until the hearing, then have them served with the notice of the hearing.

If your spouse takes your children without your permission before you get a court order, or keeps them and fails to return them as promised, you still have legal remedies. One parent cannot thumb their nose at the other and claim they have an equal right to the children. It is a crime to take or keep children maliciously from a parent who has a right of custody in many states including California. This applies when the children are taken by a parent who has a right of custody, if done without good cause and with the intent to deprive the other parent of their right. This law gives you the right to go directly to the police and get help without having to go to court.

The court is immediately available if your spouse takes your children. Your attorney will prepare your sworn statement and a proposed order seeking appropriate assistance, and have a judge sign it within hours. Your spouse must be served with a copy to be bound by the order, but the police will do it when he or she is located.

If youíre thinking of taking and hiding your children, think again, very carefully. At a minimum, youíre in for the flight of your life. Unless you have an exceptional reason, such as saving their lives, youíll probably lose your children entirely. Youíll also face criminal charges. If you violate an existing court order, youíll pay an especially heavy price.

What, if you are seriously thinking of ďsavingĒ your children, is your motivation for taking your children and running with them? There is no love in having a screaming and crying child carried away against his or her will. Spite, revenge and pride, not love and concern for the child, are the usual reasons a parent is motivated to kidnap their children. Itís rare that children spirited away to be placed in a stable, loving environment.

Case Scenario:

Gail moved away from this area and took her child with her. Her ex-husband Ed didnít do a very good job of staying in touch with his child. Gail didnít make any attempt to make it easy for Ed to locate them because she had begun to like having Ed out of their lives.

Ed finally decided to see his child, but he couldnít find her. He asked his local district attorney for assistance. They not only found the child, they took her right out of school and brought her to a judge who gave Ed temporary custody. After a lengthy battle to get her child back, the judge gave Ed custody. Gail lost the child she had only been trying to protect. She didnít face criminal charges because she hadnít violated any order and didnít act maliciously, but she paid a high price.

Information provided by:
How to Win Child Custody