Emotions often run high during contested custody cases in Montgomery County, Maryland and Prince George’s County, Maryland. One parent may feel that they were treated unfairly by the court or that losing daily contact with their child may be intolerable. Sometimes, when dealing with the intense emotional aftermath of a custody dispute, a parent may decide to violate the court’s custody order. They may choose to intentionally interfere with the other parent’s access and custody, or they may decide to abduct the child and move out of state or even out of the country.
If you believe that your co-parent has abducted or kidnapped your child, you have options. A Maryland judge or family magistrate may take any or all of the following actions against the kidnapping parent:
- Reschedule the visitation
- Change the terms of the visitation or access schedule
- Temporarily or permanently change the legal custody of the children to grant you sole legal custody
- Temporarily or permanently change the primary residence for the child
- Order the interfering and non-compliant parent to pay your court costs and attorney’s fees
- Order law enforcement to assist in retrieving the child
When a Parent Kidnaps Your Child Across State Lines
Unfortunately, sometimes a parent may flee with their son or daughter to a different state or a different country without the custodial parent’s consent or knowledge. Parental kidnapping, also known as family abduction, is a crime regardless of whether the child is taken across the city, across the country, or across the world.
Maryland Law Section 3-503 prohibits any person from taking a child under the age of 16 away from his or her home and the custody of his or her legal guardian or from knowingly harboring a child who has been abducted. Section 3-503 designates punishments if a Maryland parent flees with your child within the state in the form of felony charges and a maximum 20-year prison sentence.
International Parental Kidnapping in your Montgomery County, Maryland and Prince George’s County, Maryland Family Matter
However, if a Maryland parent flees with your child internationally, it is a federal crime and is a violation of the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act. An absconding parent may face significant fines and up to three years of imprisonment.
In international cases, the United States has reciprocal agreements with other countries where participating countries will enforce the custody orders of other participating countries. The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty specifically designed to help return abducted children to their home country.
However, if the parent flees to a country that does not recognize the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, it may be significantly more difficult to locate your child and to enforce the U.S. court order.
Preventing Parental Kidnapping in Montgomery County, Maryland, and Prince George’s County, Maryland
If you are afraid that you and your child are victims of parental kidnapping, an experienced custody lawyer can help. With counsel, you may be able to prevent the abduction, or drastically decrease the duration of the kidnapping. An experienced family attorney can assist in filing a petition for contempt of court, filing an injunction, or filing for emergency temporary custody.
Protect Your Child from Parent Kidnapping in Maryland with the Law Office of LaSheena M. Williams, LLC
At the Law Office of LaSheena M. Williams, LLC, we know how heartbreaking it can be if a Maryland parent flees with your child. If your child is the victim of parental abduction, we will work zealously to bring your son or daughter home.
Our firm passionately represents clients throughout Rockville, Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Chevy Chase, College Park, Cheverly, Greenbelt, Oxon Hill, Hyattsville, Upper Marlboro, Largo, Bowie, and surrounding communities. Call us today at (301)778-9950 or send us an online request for a consultation.
If you believe your child was kidnapped, you are strongly urged to contact local law enforcement to report your missing child.