It's 9:00 PM Sunday and your two girls were due back from their weekend with your "ex" three hours earlier. You've called and your former spouse says he/she will bring them back when he/she is "good and ready". You ask when that might be and the reply is "maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe never".
What should you do?
Although child abduction by a parent is rare, I always urge clients to be immediately proactive at the first sign that one parent is intentionally not returning the child at the appointed time. To be sure, delays due to weather, car trouble, or even occasional tardiness are excusable. But, the combination of being several hours late with belligerence and threats is particularly ominous.
It is also against the law in Missouri. A parent that willfully refuses to return a child at the time indicated in a valid court order, without good cause, commits a Class D felony of child abduction punishable by up to four years in prison. So, once your children are unaccountably overdue by more than a few minutes, you should do the following:
1. Call your "ex" to learn the cause of the delay and to determine exactly where your children are at that moment.
2. If the delay seems legitimate, find out when the children will arrive.
If the children are returned by "the new time", this is a happy ending even if it leaves you a bit annoyed and inconvenienced. However, if you cannot reach your former spouse, or if your "ex" can't provide a credible reason for the delay, and/or is unwilling to commit to returning your children as soon as possible, it's time for immediate action.
Here's what you should do:
Information provided by:
Cynthia Moseley Fox, Esq
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For more information, contact the Family Law Offices of Renee M. Marcelle at (415) 456-4444, or online at http://www.familylawmarin.com/