The Rise of Parental Abductions During the Holidays

[Source: KTLA News]

A parent’s worst nightmare is to have a child abducted. But what if that child is taken by the other parent without consent, and out of the country?

The rise of parental abductions during the holidays happens more than you think.  Joining us is acclaimed top family law attorney, Christopher C. Melcher of top family law firm Walzer Melcher. First of all, what’s the legal definition of parental abduction? This is a parent taking a child without the consent of the other one, in violation of that other parent’s rights. So, this is a parent who doesn’t value or want the other parent to be involved and will sometimes go to court to try and limit or prevent access. And when the court doesn’t help, they’ll take the law into their own hands, take the child away in violation of the other parent’s rights. How often do the rise of parental abductions during the holidays occur? Last year we had 2,000 international child abductions, and locally the number is much higher. And that’s within our own city and across the US it happens many, many more times than that. It’s frequent that we see this as divorce lawyers. And is it more the man taking the child, or woman, or both?

73% of the time it’s the mom taking the child.

And so the mom is stating a concern about the dad’s safety around the child and not getting the court to agree with them. And so she’ll take law into her own hands, take the child under this claimed belief that the dad is a safety risk. And so most of the time it’s the mom that’s abducting, and most of the time the child is under the age of six years old. And so that child can’t really communicate or fend for themselves. Why are the holidays more likely a more common time for this to occur? It’s a cover story. It’s a way to get out. If the parent is concerned genuinely about safety or just wants an excuse to get away, they’ll get consent from the other parent to take a trip, and hey, I’m just going to go with my child. We’re going to go for a week somewhere. And that gives them the ability to get away. Maybe even consent to travel internationally without the other parent, and gives them some time to escape. If that parent abducts the child, how easy is it to get that child back? Especially if you’re talking about crossing borders. Fortunately, it’s a small world and we do have a treaty called the Hague Abduction Convention with many countries that provide immediate relief. Our State Department is very responsive. We can limit passport control so we can put an alert there. We can prevent people from getting duplicate passports. We can put wearable technology, and these are sometimes shaped as even jewelry that we can track a child. This is fairly inexpensive tech, and that way we can monitor movements, but it’s very scary and sometimes it will take a matter of days. Sometimes it will take a matter of months, but most of these children do find their way back. What are the warning signs that a parent could be thinking about doing something like this? The root cause is a parent that doesn’t value the other one’s relationship with the child and is consistently trying to take away custody either genuinely for concerns or through false allegations. That’s the main thing. The other thing would be domestic violence, so if they’re in an abusive relationship. Certainly when there are threats of taking away or attempts to take away, these are all big warning signs. And in hindsight, it’s all clearer. We look back and say, “Of course that would happen”, but we’re always surprised when a parent would do any harm to a child. Yeah. It’s not something that most of us think about, but as you say, it’s a fairly common thing. Well, once again, Christopher Melcher is one of California’s best family law attorneys for the top law firm Walzer Melcher in Woodland Hills. For more information, check out their website. For more information, visit: Aired on 10/18/19 © 2019 KTLA5, Tribune Media. No claims made to copyrighted material.