By Carrie E. Kelly, Managing Attorney
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC
Although child abduction is not a common occurrence under any circumstances, the most common kind of child abduction is parental kidnapping. Parental kidnapping is when a child is taken by a parent in violation of an existing custody order. If there are no court orders in place and there are no court cases such as divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities or paternity pending, it is not kidnapping to remove a child from the state. Where there is an order setting forth custody or parenting time and the children are removed in violation of that order, there are remedies available to help safely return the children.
The most common parental kidnapping scenario involves a custody order from one state while the children are present in another state. In general, law enforcement officers will only step in to enforce an order that is issued by their state. So if the children are in the state of Colorado, Colorado law enforcement needs a Colorado court order in order to act. The fastest way to obtain a Colorado court order when you have an out of state custody order is to file the custody order with Colorado in a process called domesticating the foreign order. This process requires a certified copy of your custody order which you can then file in Colorado with the appropriate motion. Once the custody order is filed with Colorado, the Colorado courts can then direct Colorado law enforcement to take the children and return them to the other parent.
In order to save valuable time in the event of a parental kidnapping, The Gasper Law Group, PLLC recommends that every parent obtain a certified copy of their custody orders to keep on hand in case of an emergency. In an abduction scenario, the time it takes to go to the courthouse and get a certified copy of your orders may become a problem. Also, as a precautionary step, if there is an interstate parenting plan, it is wise to domesticate the foreign order in the state where the other parent resides from the beginning. You can domesticate a foreign order and not take any action at that time, but if you need to take action, you already have an open case in the state where the child is most likely to be taken.
There are always jurisdictional considerations and there may be other remedies available in your particular situation so, as always, The Gasper Law Group, PLLC recommends that you seek legal advice if you believe that your child has been or is likely to become the victim of a parental kidnapping.