Massachusetts Legal Blog
How to React When Your Ex Tries to Abduct Your Child
Even long after a divorce has been settled, parents can still be embroiled in heated debates and arguments. Whether it starts with child support payments or custody schedules, there is no excuse for making threats, especially if they involve a child’s safety. Massachusetts family law courts expect parents to conduct themselves respectfully in and outside of a courtroom. If your ex threatens to take away your child, you should act quickly and use every legal resource to protect your child.
Can My Ex Take Our Child Away?
Massachusetts’s court-ordered custody plans have strict rules regarding child relocations. However, in high-conflict custody situations, parents may fight against these rules and try to make their own decisions about custody. If parents have joint custody, then they must get approval from each other before taking a child out of the state or country, especially if it violates a set custody schedule, according to Massachusetts General Law Section 30. If a parent tries to take a child on vacation, then he must get the consent of the other parent first or face court penalties.
Even if one parent has sole custody, if there is a visitation order for the other parent, then he or she can object to the move. If the custodial parent refuses to let the other parent see the child, then the other parent can petition the court for aid. When custody is court-ordered, both parents must follow the rules to the letter or face punishments from the court, including changes to the custody plan. When a parent attempts to take a child away, it can lead to charges of parental kidnapping.
Responding to Threats of Abduction
If your ex threatens to take your child away, then you should contact an attorney and your local family law court as soon as possible. A Massachusetts family law court can grant you temporary emergency custody. These orders are not designed to completely override your custody plan but to protect your child from being kidnapped. If the threat is credible, however, the court may consider more changes.
If your ex does withhold your child from you or try to leave the state or country, then the proper authorities must become involved, as it is a case of parental kidnapping. Parental kidnapping is a crime that can lead to state charges under Massachusetts General Laws Section 26A and federal charges under the International Parental Kidnapping Act. The police can issue an Amber Alert to bring your child home as quickly as possible and contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) for additional help. In addition, the U.S. Department of State and TSA can place your child on a “Do Not Depart” list, which will prevent your ex from taking your child out of the country.
Speak to a Lawyer Who Knows What to Do
During such a difficult time, it is important to have strong legal counsel at your side. There is nothing more terrifying than losing your child, and you may need someone to shoulder the legal burdens of your case. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., our Boston family law attorney can advocate for your child’s safety and best interests. We have more than a decade of experience working in the family law courts around Boston and Methuen. Do not wait to reach out to us if you are concerned. Call our office at (617) 870-0907 and schedule a free consultation.
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