Inter-state Child Abduction: What You Need To Know in Michigan

Man walking away with a young boy

Child abduction happens, although it’s not usually a stranger. Most often it’s family.

Let’s say that you and your spouse are getting divorced. Not an amicable divorce, but a highly contentious breakup that involves lots of finger pointing and angry name calling. Sounds stressful, right? Absolutely. However, the biggest issue isn’t the fact that you and your spouse can’t exchange three civil words. It’s the fact that the two of you can’t come to an agreement about custody, and your spouse has family members in another state.

Why should that be a big deal, you wonder? Tons of people have families spread out all over the country. It’s perfectly normal. The issue however, is that right here and now, your spouse may be emptying their bank accounts and sending lots of furtive messages to out-of-state cousins. In short, they could be planning to run. And if that’s the plan, they’re going to take your kids with them.

While TV shows tend to paint the picture of abduction as being one in which children are snatched by predators and evil strangers, the truth is almost worse. More than three quarters of child abductions are carried out by family members. Fathers and mothers. People who often put their own interests before the interests of the child. People who, as soon as they cross that line, become wanted criminals.

The Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act, which was passed in Michigan on January 12, 2015, is in place for this exact scenario. It provides Michigan courts with guidelines and information that helps prevent child abductions during custody disputes and divorce proceedings. By helping the court to identify the families at risk, it aims to reduce the number of children taken by misguided family members.

One of the legal needs that the UCAP Act provides for, is jurisdictional communication and cooperation. Because most abductions end up involving multiple courts in multiple counties, if not states and even countries, the courts have to have a means of sharing information effectively. This need is met by providing temporary emergency jurisdiction provisions.

It also provides a significant list that the courts can use to determine if a parent is an abduction risk. These factors include:

  • prior abduction attempts,
  • abduction threats,
  • a history of domestic violence, and  
  • a refusal to obey other aspects of a custody agreement.

Join us next time to continue this discussion, and move to the next portion of this topic – international child abduction. In part two of this series we’re going to discuss the issues faced by the court during international abductions, and how the court would handle an actual abduction scenario.

Until then, if you or a loved one have been falsely accused of a child abduction, or are concerned about a potential child abduction during your divorce or custody dispute, contact our highly skilled family lawyers immediately at 248 306-4004. We have handled numerous cases like this before. We understand how complex the law can be, and how frightening the situation is for parents. We are here to help you through this.

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