If you have never heard of parental kidnapping, you are not alone. A surprising number of people are unaware of the legal term and fail to take action when the time comes. Parental kidnapping happens when one parent takes their child without the consent of another parent. In some countries, it is not a crime. But, in the US, it is.
The risk of parental kidnapping is real, especially in a high conflict divorce in Massachusetts. According to sources, 260,000 children are abducted by their parents every year. To ensure this does not happen to you, following a few tips might help.
Tips for a parental kidnapping prevention
- Get your child custody plan in writing.
One of the reasons parental kidnapping cases happen in Massachusetts is that divorced parents often do not have a proper agreement. Maybe you have a verbal agreement with your spouse. However, until and unless you have a legally bound document, you are always at the risk of being accused of parental kidnapping.
Suppose you verbally decide that the child will stay with you on Mondays. You pick them up from their house on a Monday but then see your spouse filing a complaint. Here, you cannot prove that you were following the co-parenting plan as there is no legal document to prove it.
- Document everything.
Going to the court and telling the judge that you were following a mutually decided parenting plan is not enough. The judge won’t simply believe your words without supporting evidence. The best way to avoid confusion over what is happening is to document everything. If your co-parent fails to follow the plan, write down the details in a journal and gather evidence, such as photographs. You should also pay attention to what your child says about the other parent and record their answers.
- Do not keep the worries to yourself.
If you are worried about being wrongfully accused, discuss this with your attorney. The first thing your attorney will ask you to do is legalize the parenting plan. Other than that, they can also tell you how you should proceed to avoid as many mistakes as possible. An attorney can also use their special resources to gather evidence of your innocence.
- Inform your child’s school or daycare about the parental plan.
If your child goes to school or daycare and one of the parents needs to pick and drop them, the school or daycare must know about the parental plan. If they know the plan, they will know which parent will pick or drop the child at their facility. This can avoid confusion, and you can also ask them to give witnesses statements in court.