We can obtain an enforceable decree from Court specifying temporary terms of custody. The decree can include an injunction that prohibits your spouse from removing your children from the state. An injunction is a Court order, which you can present to the police if your spouse takes your children. It will secure their assistance in retrieving your kids. The police will not get involved in helping to locate and return your children without a Court order authorizing it.
People who divorce often make serious errors of judgment when their children are missing or in danger. McAdams Law represented a mother whose former husband kidnapped their children and held them for ransom. He was a drug dealer, and told her he would only return them if she transported a shipment of narcotics for him. In desperation she agreed, and moved the drugs out-of-state. She got caught, then jumped bail and was a fugitive for seven years.
At the time McAdams Law took the case, she had been re-arrested on a federal warrant, and was facing a potential sentence of over forty years in Federal Prison. The firm explained her family history and motivation to recover her children to the Court. Fortunately, the judge reduced her sentence to six months of house arrest and five years on probation. The lesson here is: if you're emotionally overwrought because your spouse has taken your children, hire an attorney immediately, contact law enforcement and let them do their jobs.
When you're not thinking clearly, it's easy to be coerced or influenced to do things you otherwise never would. If you take matters into your own hands, you may deeply regret the result. If you lack funds to hire a lawyer, representation may be available to you at no cost through Family Court. Never kidnap your children to gain an advantage. If you suspect child snatching is a real possibility, protect your children vigilantly and speak to your attorney about precautions.
The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act and various state laws make parental kidnapping a crime. Taking a child out-of-state in violation of a Court order, or concealing a child from a parent is in most instances a felony. Additionally, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act stops parents from moving children to different states to obtain legal advantages by "jurisdiction shopping." Jurisdiction refers to the authority a Court has to decide on a case.
An additional practical step against parental kidnapping is to have passports issued to your children and to retain these documents in your secure possession, as a defense against your spouse taking your kids to another country.
Aside from child snatching issues, if you think your spouse may relocate prior to finalizing outstanding divorce and custody issues, notify your attorney immediately. Once your spouse is outside the jurisdiction of the New York State Courts, it is more difficult and expensive to enforce your rights. But your lawyer can secure temporary arrangements and court enforcement before your husband or wife moves.
For example, in a case against an unmarried father of an eight-year-old child, McAdams Law obtained a temporary order of support just days before he left New York to move south. By vigilantly following the father and maintaining control over the case, the firm was able to have the amount of support increased. The decree of support was finalized when he obtained steady work.
Give thorough consideration to any temporary arrangement before agreeing to it. Temporary orders can become binding, as the Courts are reluctant to disturb an arrangement that works. You may have a hard time explaining and justifying to a judge why it should be changed. Keep this in mind when determining what to ask for, since you may have to live with it long-term.
Another reason to think carefully about temporary custody is that if your spouse likes the arrangement and you don't, then he or she has an incentive to delay reaching an agreement on a final plan. It's leverage to use against you in negotiating concessions.