By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 children are abducted by a parent.
Almost half of these kidnapped children were taken across state lines by their abducting parent and concealed, with the intent of keeping them for an indefinite period of time or to try to effect a permanent change of custody in the abducting parent’s favor. Forty-four percent of these children are under the age of six.
Parental kidnapping is considered child abuse by the legal system.
The Effect of Parental Abduction on Children
The effect of a parental abduction on children is almost always very damaging. Sometimes an abducting parent will conceal the child’s appearance or name or even tell the child that the other parent has died.
Almost always, the child is instructed to not reveal his or her true identity. They learn to fear the very people who are put in place to help them, such as teachers, doctors, police, school nurses, scout leaders and coaches. A child may even be kept out of school in order to keep the child’s location undetectable to authorities.
U.S. Parental Kidnapping Laws
In all 50 states, laws have been enacted to address the interstate and international kidnapping of children by a parent. These laws were designed to also protect the parent who has been left behind.
Children are not property or a living “bargaining chip,” even though they are often regarded as such by an abducting parent. In the case of a child being taken without permission across state lines, the home state of the child and primary parent is always granted preference and priority by the courts.
Child custody laws also prohibit an abducting parent from instigating a simultaneous custody proceeding in another state. The home state is always afforded the highest jurisdiction.
International Parental Kidnapping Laws
In international cases, the Hague Convention provides for the current custody orders to continue in force and effect; however, there are some countries that do not honor the Hague Convention provisions.
In this event, the parent left behind has no legal recourse and must rely on other help in order to regain physical custody of the children.
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Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.