How Orange County Parents Should Handle Their Child Not Being Returned

Parent holding cared childThis is the next post in our series on the handling of parental abduction cases in Orange County, California. Our last article provided an overview of topics we will be discussing and stressed the need to contact a family law attorney if you find yourself in a situation where your ex has taken or is refusing to return the child. It is important to contact counsel immediately and, depending on the situation, to contact law enforcement. In this article we will be discussing another important topic – how parents should handle situations in which their child is not being returned. As we will discuss, a parent refusing to return the child does not necessarily constitute “abduction.” If you have questions then contact our child custody lawyers today.

Many parents make the mistake of thinking that a parent has kidnapped or abducted the child in situations where the current child custody schedule is not being followed. It is important to understand that the situation may warrant taking legal action and, then again, it may not. We will be using this article to help you understand whether your particular set of facts rises to the level of possibly involving the Courts. Remember, however, that all cases are situation specific.

Parents sometimes think that their ex is committing a crime simply because they do not return the child on time or if they explicitly refuse to do so on a one-time basis. If an offending parent keeps the child for several extra hours, or even a day, but does not make a habit of doing so then the Courts are unlikely to view such conduct as “abduction.” The Judge may not be happy with the offending parent but such circumstances are typically seen as a one-time disagreement between the parties. If your ex is late returning the child, or is keeping them for an extra day over your objection, then the Court would be unlikely to get involved.

There are many situations in which a Court will get involved after a child has not been returned to the custodial parent. The first and most obvious is when the offending parent has abducted the child and their whereabouts are unknown. In such situations it is best for Orange County residents to immediately contact law enforcement and to then contact counsel. Another common situation is when a parent is engaging in “self help” and is refusing to return the child; in these instances the offending parent may legitimately believe that they are acting in the child’s best interests. The fact of the matter, however, is that if they think the child is better off in their care then they need to go to Court and change their child custody arrangement rather than taking the law into their own hands. Another example occurs when an offending parent is keeping the child simply as a way of arguing with their counterpart. When the child’s whereabouts are known and the child is not in immediate danger then law enforcement will be hesitant to get involved. Contacting counsel is crucial.

If your child has been abducted or if your ex is simply refusing to return your little one then contact my office today to speak with an Orange County child custody attorney. Our lawyers will work quickly so that the child may be returned to you. Our Lake Forest office also serves Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, Ladera Ranch, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Tustin, Westminster, and Yorba Linda.


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