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Family law: Parental abduction is a criminal offence

There is nothing worse for a parent to think that his or her child could be in harm's way. No parent wants to believe his or her former spouse and the parent of his or her child would do anything to hurt their children. But when British Columbia couples are going through high-conflict divorces, one person may take the children somewhere without the knowledge of the other. This is a serious family law issue that could result in an accusation of parental abduction, and there are laws in place to protect children and hold parents accountable when they do things they shouldn't.

Statistics show that a few hundred kids in Canada get abducted each year by a parent. About 10% of  them – if they or that parent were born outside of Canada – are taken back to their or their parent's country of origin. A parent who thinks his or her former spouse might be inclined to do this should heed the warning signs, such as when the other parent makes threats about taking the child, exhibits stalking or harassing behaviour, or fights incessantly about access or custody issues. A parent might also be angry about a decision made by a family court judge and might choose to take matters into his or her own hands by removing the children.

Statistics show that parental abduction is, in fact, more likely during contentious custody battles. Even if it is a parent who removes a child, doing so is considered a criminal offence. Parents must adhere to any court orders they have been given.

Having a formal parenting plan in place may go a long way to eliminating the instances of parental abduction. Speaking with a lawyer experienced in family law and these types of situations may be of great help. Keeping children safe is of paramount concern to a lawyer who will always have the best interests of a child at heart. 

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