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What can you do if your co-parent takes your child?

Thankfully, the kidnapping of a child by a parent is not something that commonly occurs among divorced couples. However, it can and does happen. It's important to know what your rights and legal options are in North Dakota if your ex-spouse or partner takes the child to interfere with your rights as his or her custodian.

What is and isn't considered "kidnapping" is based in part on how your custody agreement reads. If the agreement forbids a parent from taking the child out of the state, for example, you may be able to have the person charged with custodial interference or kidnapping.

Under North Dakota law, a person who "intentionally removes, causes the removal of, or detains the person's own child under the age of eighteen years outside this state with the intent to deny another person's rights in violation of an existing custody decree" for over 72 hours can be charged with a felony.

If you have reason to believe that your co-parent is considering taking your child in violation of your custody agreement, you should contact your family law attorney for advice and guidance. There are legal options such as getting an emergency protective order for your child or filing a criminal complaint against your ex. If you believe that he or she is planning to take the child outside of the U.S., you can ask a court to seize the passport of that child.

Of course, here in Fargo, we're right on the border with Minnesota, so it may be reasonable and even necessary for a parent to take a child between the two states. However, when you draw up the custody agreement, you should let your attorney know of any concerns you have about your child's other parent taking or keeping him or her without your permission. Your attorney can work to get those concerns addressed in the agreement. This can help prevent conflict or confusion between the two of you later on. More importantly, it can help minimize stress for your child.

Source: WomensLaw.org, "State Parental Kidnapping Information," accessed Feb. 26, 2016

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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