It is common in Interstate Child Custody cases, for one parent to take a child, or withhold the return of a child, from the other parent. It is then that the child custody lawyers must get involved and work with the District Attorneys office to get a court order sending the child back.
This is a FAQ from the Los Angeles District Attorneys Office on Child Abductions:
- WHAT IS AN ABDUCTION?
Someone who takes, entices away, keeps, withholds, or conceals a child from a lawful custodian or a person with a right to visitation and who did so with the mental state required under the criminal law has broken that law. The law may still be broken in situations where a mother and father have a child together but no custody order exists regarding that child. (California Penal Code sections 278 and 278.5)
- CAN A FAMILY MEMBER ABDUCT HIS/HER OWN CHILD?
Yes! In fact, the majority of abductions are committed by a mother, father, grandparent, or other relative. If you think that a family member who takes his/her child is not breaking the law, you are wrong. CHILD ABDUCTION, EVEN BY A FAMILY MEMBER, IS A FELONY punishable by up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS?
Yes. A child may be kept away from the other parent or person with visitation or custody rights if that person is harmful to the child, and if certain legal requirements are met. If you think that taking or keeping a child in violation of the terms of a custody or visitation order would be justified for the safety of you or the child, you should call the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office at (213) 974-7424. If you do not have a legally allowable reason for taking or keeping the child, you could face charges of child abduction. (Penal Code section 278.7)
1. File a Police Report: Interference in your right to have access to your child is a crime and a police report should be taken. THIS IS TRUE WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE A CUSTODY ORDER. The report should be made with the police department which serves the location where you live. Make sure that the police also take a missing person’s report on your child, and that they enter the information into NCIC, the national crime information computer system.
2. Obtain a Custody Order if You Do Not Already Have One: Although a custody order is not required to report an abduction to the police as a crime, having a custody order, or at least filing for custody in Family Court, can lead to other resources to assist you in locating and recovering your child.
3. Contact the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Child Abduction Section at (213) 974-7424. We can provide advice on your situation, as well as potentially directly assist you in locating and recovering your child.
4. Contact Other Agencies for Assistance: Numerous private agencies assist parents in locating their missing children. The largest such agency is The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678.