I’m Afraid my ex is Going to Kidnap Our Child! What Can I do? (Pt 1)

A close up of a statue with tied hands, signifying a kidnapping victim who is being held captive.
The term “kidnap” tends to conjure specific images of tied up captives, but parental kidnapping is a different kettle of fish!

When you hear the term “kidnapping”, most parents tend to think about traffickers who snatch kids from playgrounds, or the people in certain South American countries who steal children from wealthy families and then ransom them back for millions of dollars. It sounds terrible, but like something that happens to other families – families who live far away, have loads of money, or don’t watch their children closely enough. In fact, it sounds like the kind of thing that the average parent wouldn have to worry about. Except that isn’t actually the truth.

More than 50% of kidnappings are performed by parents!

According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children there were 456,676 entries for missing children in 2016, and about half of those entries involved parental kidnapping. In fact, a total of 203,000 children have been victims of parental kidnapping (also called parental abduction) here in the United States. That’s a heck of a lot of children who’ve been snatched away from one parent by their other parent – an experience that must be terrifying and confusing for them, to say the least!

What does Michigan law say about parental kidnapping?

Kidnapping a child, even if it’s your own child, is illegal in Michigan. The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, prohibits a parent from taking a child for more than 24 hours with the intent to conceal that child from the other parent. Anyone convicted of parental kidnapping in Michigan faces imprisonment for up to 1 year and a day, or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both. In addition, there are federal laws prohibiting parental kidnapping, and the feds take that stuff even more seriously! 

Are there red flags to watch out for?

There’s a reason they say hindsight is always 20/20. Often, when you’re looking back on a situation that got out of control quickly, you realize the signs were there all along, you just didn’t see them. So are there red flags you can keep an eye out for If you suspect your ex may be planning to kidnap your child? Yes there are…

  • Your ex angry with you about not getting full custody of your child, or about the fact that they only got visitation when they believe they should have at least been granted joint custody.
  • Your ex has no strong ties through family or close loved ones to the state of Michigan, and no support system in place here.
  • Your ex is clearing out their bank accounts, quitting their job, giving away furnishings or other personal belongings that they can’t move with quickly.
  • Your ex has made prior threats to take your child and run, or simply move away somewhere where you won’t be able to find them.

There are ways to protect your children from parental kidnapping!

Join us next time, when we’ll be looking at ways to keep your kids safe after a divorce. Until then, if you’re considering ending your marriage, or want to make changes to your custody agreement, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you with every aspect of the process, including child support, visitation, alimony and asset division.