One of the scariest thoughts that a parent can encounter relates to their child being taken from them. In the old days, we would be concerned with our children wandering away from us at a store and not being able to find them. Cell phones are less of a concern, but we still keep our eyes on our children at all times when we leave the house. Too many possibilities for other people to get their hands on our children and take them somewhere we cannot find them. This is the stuff that nightmares are made of. Not exactly the type of thing that a parent wants to fixate on for any period.
Now what is most intimidating about this concept is that the person who takes your child into one of these nightmare situations is someone that you do not know. The person is just another face in the crowd until he takes your child and does not return her. Hopefully, this is a concern that never becomes a reality for you or your family. I know that it does not have to be an immediate concern to still be on your mind as a mom or dad. Keeping our children safe is job number one as a parent. If you cannot do that then everything else, you are trying to do for your child is unimportant to a certain extent.
Keeping your child safe is of particular concern to parents during a divorce or child custody case. Even in the time leading up to one of these cases, it is hard to describe just how critical it is for a parent to be able to keep tabs on their child, maintain their safety, and ensure the child can get to where he needs to get to without the threat of being harmed or taken someplace. You need only ask a school administrator to find out the details of just how far a parent will go to protect their children. Parents will show up to elementary schools at a moment's notice when they find out that their ex-spouse or co-parent is at the school causing a scene about trying to take the child out of class for some reason. This is why family attorneys recommend providing the school with a copy of your court orders to make sure that the school is aware of your circumstances so that they can act, if necessary, to prevent a co-parent from removing your child from class if he or she is not allowed to do so.
Parental kidnapping is a subject that gets the attention of a parent because desperate parents often will do desperate things when they feel like their backs are against the wall. You never know what someone is capable of when it comes to the lives of your children. Your co-parent may feel like he or she has nothing to lose by trying to remove your child from class or even from your home without you knowing. I don't mention this to make a scarier situation even worse or to intimidate you. Rather, I mention it as a way for you to get snapped to attention and not lose focus on what is most important in a family law case- the safety of your children. When you can keep your child safe everything else in your life as a parent falls into place. However, if you are unable to keep your child safe then It can feel like you aren't able to provide your child with the basics in life. This is a defeating feeling, to be sure.
What can you do during a family law case to limit the opportunities for your co-parent to try and kidnap your child? There is a lot of grey area within a family case because parents want to engage in different types of negotiations depending upon the circumstances of your case. What is best for your family may not be best for my family and vice versa. Therefore, you need to be able to negotiate well with your co-parent based on what is happening in your life. Your concerns can be unique, and they do not have to be “reasonable” in the eyes of your co-parent. When it comes to keeping your child safe you should explore every option and pursue every means within your disposal to make sure your child can lead their life without concern of being taken somewhere against their will.
This is where an experienced family law attorney comes in handy. If you have a reasonable fear for the safety of your child, then this will very likely be the main motivating factor behind how you negotiate with your co-parent on issues related to your family case. We are going to do a deep dive into the issue of how to prevent parental kidnapping within the context of a family case. How you can press these issues with your co-parent in your case and then see to it that he follows the orders as written? That is the goal for a parent to look after when walking through a situation where kidnapping or abduction is a true concern. Having an experienced family law attorney available to assist you in these times is also incredibly important. Do not neglect the representation aspect of this part of your case.
When you have questions about this issue or any other when it comes to Texas family law I can think of no better resource for you to take advantage of than the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys work around the clock to serve our clients and their families. There is no part of a case that we overlook and no client that we do not seek to serve to the best of our abilities. Whether yours is a divorce or child custody case that has already been filed or is a situation that has yet to be filed we want you to have as much information at your disposal as possible so that when your case does begin you will be able to hit the ground running. For potential clients and people just trying to learn about the family law process we hope that blog posts like this can offer you impactful updates and knowledge about Texas family law.
Our attorneys and staff offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. We want to be as flexible and accommodating as possible when it comes to helping the people in our community learn about their rights and how to use them in conjunction with family law issues. Today's blog post is a great example of that. In working with many families across many different types of family law cases, we have come to find out that the fear of your child being kidnapped is a real one that many parents experience. As a result, rather than hide the issue from people who may be in a similar spot, we would like to make sure that all parents have an opportunity to take something useful away from this topic via today's blog post.
Kidnapping – what to watch out for
Kidnapping does not usually take on the elements that we may see in a movie or television show. For instance, when we see kidnapping depicted in a movie or television show there is usually some drama and build-up to the situation occurring. The child will be somewhere perfectly normal until someone comes in and picks up the kid, vanishing into thin air. While this certainly can happen in real life that is not how it usually occurs. In many cases, the kidnapping is less about grabbing the child from somewhere and more about overextending the time that you already had with the child. Here is what I mean by that.
If your co-parent has weekend visitation, he or she could simply decide that rather than return your child home one day he or she would just keep your child a day or two extra beyond the time that he or she was allowed under your court orders. This feels less like a kidnapping than it does like overstaying your vastation period, but the net effect is the same. When your co-parent has your child during a period that has not been promised to him or her in the court orders then that is akin to kidnapping. This is especially true when that parent does not give you any head’s up or notice about the kidnapping that is going to occur. The surprise that many parents experience when their child is not returned home can be a real shock to their system. The realization sets in that a court order is not as powerful as you would have hoped, and you need to be vigilant to make sure that you and your co-parent are on the same page as far as what is acceptable behavior.
Many parents fear kidnapping from home but kidnapping from a school is also possible. Many times if you list your co-parent as an emergency contact or other person that can be reached out to when there is an issue with your child means that he or she will have the ability to access the campus and be in contact with your child in one way or another. This is a serious situation where your co-parent could be allowed to access your child in a place where you are not able to control the circumstances very well. If your court order allows your child to be picked up for a doctor’s appointment by either parent, then the school may not know that an attempted kidnapping is happening. Rather, the school may just be allowing the other parent to pick up their child to go see the doctor. Things like this happen every day without incident. However, all it takes is for it to happen one time with the wrong intent on the part of a parent for the seemingly innocuous pick-up attempt to turn into a kidnapping.
The other type of kidnapping that parents in Texas need to be aware of is interstate or international kidnapping. This type of kidnapping occurs when a parent intends to remove a child from home or school without permission and take the child to another state or another country. I say that Texas parents need to especially be aware of these considerations because Texans tend to have more contact with other states and other countries than parents from other places. Texans are more likely to be recent immigrants either domestic or foreign to Texas than in other states. This means that a parent who recently moved to Texas may have connections or an easier time taking a child from Texas to another state. Again, this is far from a certainty in your situation most likely but it is something to be aware of.
This is especially true when you consider that it will be difficult to get your child home no matter where the other country is. Some countries will work with the United States on returning your child home. However, some countries will not cooperate much at all and this can make the process very difficult for you to have your child return home. You will likely need to hire a local attorney in the country where you believe that your child was taken and then attempt to have him returned to you. You may have to attend court in that country and that means travel and legal expenses on top of those expenses which are a part of your Texas family law case. The best way to save yourself the stress, anxiety, hassle, and expense associated with a situation like this is to work to ensure that the kidnapping never occurs in the first place.
Preventing a kidnapping from occurring
The first thing that I will point out is that there is so much that is outside of your control when it comes to your children that you should not feel like you can completely handle the situation when it comes to kidnapping. You can follow all the information that we are about to talk about and still find yourself in a bad situation regarding your child and kidnapping. With that said, it is still better to follow through with these steps than to not do them at all. At least by following best practices regarding this subject, you can be sure that you have done whatever it is that is possible in your situation to protect your child.
First, you will need to have clear court orders that can be understood by you and your co-parent. Sometimes the kidnapping that you experience will simply be a misunderstanding of the orders that you have created. The chances of this happening decrease a great deal if you and your co-parent can understand the orders that you have created. This means to have clear language in the orders and phrase things in a way that you do not need a law degree to understand. The clearer your orders are the more likely a court will be able to enforce those orders in the event of a violation.
Next, you should have a copy of your orders at home that you can refer to periodically. If you understand the orders and make sure that your co-parent does, as well, you can minimize the chances of a kidnapping situation. Have a copy in your desk drawer at home so you can refer to them if you or your co-parent have a question about pick up, drop off, or anything else having to do with your children. It pays to be able to immediately pull out a copy of the orders so that you can tell your spouse what you read something as. It may be that you are incorrect about your reading of an issue and your co-parent will be in a position where he or she can correct you and set the record straight.
Finally, you should be vigilant about these orders so that there is no question your co-parent understands what your expectations are. If you allow your co-parent to consistently take small liberties with the order and drop your child off late at home, pick him up at odd times, or generally do whatever he or she wants this sets a precedent that is not to your advantage. Rather, if you are consistent with your expectations of your co-parent and how he or she approaches your custody orders you can be nearly sure that he or she will approach the situation with more respect.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.
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