If you fear that the other parent will abduct your child, or if the other parent has taken your child out of California without notice or permission, state and federal laws exist to prevent or punish such actions. Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., has vast experience in domestic and international child abduction cases. Our attorneys are familiar with the laws governing interstate abductions and international custody kidnapping (Hague Convention), and we act quickly to reunite you with your child and protect your parental rights. Our practice is devoted exclusively to family law, and we advocate in state and federal courts throughout San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and the entire Bay Area.
Custody Kidnapping And Interstate Child Custody Disputes
Child abduction is a common fear in divorce, especially when the other parent has strong ties in another state or country, and/or has a history of violent or controlling behavior. Many kidnappings occur at the time that a divorce is threatened or filed, before a court has issued a formal custody order. Sometimes it happens after a court has ruled on custody and visitation.
The United States enacted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) to protect children from being subjected to the jurisdiction of multiple state courts in the event of a custody dispute. Under the UCCJEA, child custody matters are decided in the state where children have most recently lived and have the strongest ties. This prevents a parent from taking the child to another state and trying to establish custody there. Barring extraordinary circumstances, the law would require that the child be returned to California, and that the California family law courts handle any revisions to the custody order. If the other parent absconds with your child and goes into hiding, we will enlist private investigators to help locate that parent.
Abduction Or Relocation Dispute?
A parent with sole custody has the presumptive right to relocate with the children. However, that parent must notify the other parent and the court, and the relocating parent must move for good faith reasons. If the custodial parent has left California with the intent of depriving the other parent of his or her parental rights, the court of jurisdiction can rescind the existing order and award custody to the other parent.
It is never advisable to remove a child from one state to another without permission, even if the rationale is to protect your child from harm. Under the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), the removing parent can be charged with a federal crime and/or be divested of custody. If you truly fear for your child’s safety, contact your attorney or the police, rather than taking matters into your own hands.
If you are concerned about your child being removed from the state, a court can intervene with various remedies:
- A court order granting you immediate custody until a temporary custody hearing
- A court order requiring the parent to surrender passports
- A court order for supervised visitation
- A court order for posting of a bond prior to parenting time
A temporary or final custody order can also address out-of-state or out-of-country travel to protect against abduction: advance notice, limits on the distance or duration, detailed itinerary and contact information, or posting a bond with the court.
“I hope that if you ever have to see an attorney, you will use Schoenberg Family Law Group. I believe Debra will do what it takes to achieve your goals. Her kindness and professionalism exceeds all standards. Her compassion to help will amaze you. Anytime you need legal advice is usually a difficult time in your life, and having a lawyer who will treat you with dignity and respect is rare. You will not be let down!!”
— J.G. (One of many client testimonials.)
Discuss Your Concerns With Experienced, Compassionate Lawyers
Our San Francisco parental child abduction attorneys will act vigorously on your behalf if a kidnapping occurs. We can also advise you at the outset of your divorce regarding abduction prevention.
We invite you to contact us online or call us at 415.834.1120 to schedule a consultation.