When Parents Abduct
I recently had the opportunity to address the Orange County Bar Association Family Law Committee. These lawyers, among many other things, deal with divorcing couples. With over half of marriages these days ending in divorce, there certainly is a need for their services. Unfortunately is it seldom as easy as two people agreeing to an amiable parting of the ways. As we all know, many times divorces can get ugly and sometimes extremely so. When you’re dealing with such a highly charged emotional issue filled with pain and betrayal, it is easy to see how things could quickly spiral out of control with both parties trying to hurt the other as much as possible. When you add children to the mix, the stakes go up even more.
What many lawyers, Judges and child advocates know all too well is just how often children are used as pawns and leverage as parents, who are hurting and angry battle it out. 150 plus times a day, this escalates to the point where one parent wants to devastate the other so much that they make the decision to abduct a child or children. Most of the time, these children are under 4 years old, so they don’t have any real understanding of the situation and are easily misled.
Non-custodial parental abductions make up 82% of all abductions in the United States. Overwhelmingly, the parents committing these types of kidnappings are not worried about the best interest of the child. They’re focused on hurting the spouse. Imagine, what would be more painful that having your child taken away, to not know where they are or what is happening to them?
The reality is that, not only do the left behind parents suffer, the children pay a huge price. Children abducted by a parent notoriously do not go to school, they do not receive medical attention and they do not develop socially as they’re often forced to a life on the run. And when it comes down to it, in the end, a child will find out that a parent has lied to them, lied on a scale that will often cause enormous issues that can impact relationships and self-esteem the rest of their lives. When a parent lies to you, who do you trust? Those early years of a person’s life are when so many connections in the brain are created. Basically, how you relate and respond to all sorts of things is established by the time you’re 8 to 10.
So understand, when you hear about a parent abducting a child. The reality is most often a selfishness that is unparalleled. You have a parent who is willing to damage, if not destroy, their child’s life as a way of hurting a person they once loved. People can fall out of love… people can get divorce… people do not have to negatively impact their children when it happens.