Parental Child Abduction
Prior to filing
Established parents of a child (both on birth certificate) share custody of their child. Pursuant to California law, each parent has a right to exercise 100% custody. In the absence of other unlawful conduct, such as abuse and neglect, this right is only restricted by a requirement not to hide the child from the other parent and also whatever travel requirements may be imposed at state and national borders. Should an abduction occur the Child Abduction Unit of your county can take action and upon filing a request, a judge may order that the District Attorney find a child and return him or her so that custody issues may be decided by the court.
Pursuant to the Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders contained within the Summons, both parents are restrained from removing the child or children from the state of California without written permission of the other parent or an order of the court. These orders are effective against the Petitioner when the petition and summons are filed and are effective against the Respondent when the court acquires jurisdiction through service of the documents or the Respondent appearing in the case. Of course if the child is already out of the state of California prior to the Summons taking effect, then this does not apply. Other than moving the child out of California the rules of custody prior to filing apply.
After a court order
A parent can go weeks or months without seeing a child that is being withheld by another parent. Only the possibility of imminent harm to the child can speed this process up. In most situations, the parent with custody of the child is taking reasonable care of the child, but he or she nevertheless prevents contact with the other parent. I wish more was done to discourage this obnoxious behavior – but I can’t say that anything is being done. Once the order is in place, signed by the judge, – the police with usually help you obtain custody of the child should the other parent violate it. In extreme cases of violation they will arrest the other parent. Again, in the case of an abduction the Child Abduction Unit of the District Attorney or an order from a judge should be obtained. Below are links to Los Angeles and Orange County District Attorneys Child Abduction information:
Los Angeles County District Attorney – Child Abduction
Orange County District Attorney Child Abduction
If a parent seeks to move with a child far enough away that the move will affect the other parents ability to visit or have custody of the child a written agreement or an order from the court should be obtained.
When move away parent has sole physical custody
The non-custodial parent must show detriment to the child in order to obtain an evidentiary hearing regarding changing the custody order. If this is not shown the court may rule based on the best interest of the child.
When there is joint physical custody
The court must establish what the best interests of the child based on the evidence presented at a hearing.