No one wants to think that their co-parent will abduct their child. Unfortunately, it happens — particularly in high-conflict divorces and when parents don’t believe they’ve gotten a fair custody deal.
Certainly, those aren’t valid excuses. Parental abduction (which involves a parent taking a child without the other parent’s knowledge or permission) is illegal in the U.S. Under the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, law enforcement agencies must cooperate with their counterparts in other states to find and return abducted children. Things can get a little more complicated if child is taken out of the U.S.
Although parents who abduct their own children often think they’re doing what’s best for them, that’s rarely the case. If a child is being abused or neglected, the appropriate way to deal with it is through law enforcement and the courts. Most children who are abducted by a parent are frightened and even traumatized by the experience.
Keeping trust and respect in your co-parenting relationship
While you can’t control what your co-parent does, you can try to make your divorce less adversarial. That doesn’t mean giving in to everything they want. However, if you try to maintain a respectful (if not amicable) relationship with them and their family, your co-parent may be less inclined to do something that will hurt you – and their relatives will be less likely to help them.
If your co-parent has shared custody or visitation rights, it’s important to adhere to the order that’s in place. (We’re assuming there’s no history of abuse or neglect.) This can help build (or rebuild) trust. If they’ll agree to it, co-parenting therapy may help. If they won’t, therapy can still help you develop skills to deal with a difficult co-parent.
If your co-parent makes a reference to taking your child (even if they claim to be “kidding”) be sure to document it. If your co-parent makes continued comments like this, is reluctant to give your child back when their parenting time is over or they take your child farther away than the custody order allows without your permission, you may need to seek court intervention. It’s definitely wise to have legal guidance.