Scared child on stairsThis is the next post is a series of articles discussing situations in which a Little Rock, Arkansas parent refuses to comply with an existing custody order by engaging in parental abduction. In my previous article, I discussed seeking a modification of an existing custody order in response to parental abduction. Under certain circumstances, a parent’s intentional refusal to honor their co-parent’s custody rights may justify such a change. This post will address another important topic: refraining from self-help to retrieve a child being held in violation of a custody agreement. If you need assistance with a child custody matter, contact my office to speak to an attorney.

Child custody disputes are among the most emotional and heated subjects when parents divorce or separate. Unfortunately, even after obtaining a permanent custody order, ongoing disputes between parents can arise. Whether an offending parent is habitually late, frequently requests schedule changes or completely ignores a custody order, the situation can become extremely frustrating. If one’s counterpart blatantly refuses to return a child or otherwise intentionally withholds access to the other parent, this may be considered parental abduction and require immediate corrective action. Of course, if the child is in imminent danger of harm, one should contact law enforcement immediately. To simply secure the return of a child, however, a signed pick-up order will be required before police involvement can occur. While this may seem unfair, parents should avoid engaging in self-help to enforce their agreement.

Understandably, attempting to solve the problem oneself may seem like the only option, however, doing so may result in serious negative consequences. Attempting to retrieve the child without law enforcement may become dangerous to oneself and one’s child. It is easy to imagine how a heated argument over the phone or through text messages might escalate significantly should the parents meet face to face. Particularly if one parent is demanding access to a child, this could lead to verbal or physical altercations, threats, etc. Even if the noncompliant parent is acting unlawfully, engaging in this type of behavior could lead to criminal charges against the non-offending parent. A family court judge will not take a favorable view of any parental behavior that places the child at risk of physical or emotional harm. Engaging in self-help may backfire and negatively impact one’s custody dispute. Instead of taking matters into your own hands, it is strongly recommended that you contact an attorney as soon as possible to assist you with enforcing your legal rights in a safe and lawful way. Your attorney can help you obtain a pick-up order quickly and facilitate the return of your child with police assistance. Counsel will also advise you on seeking permanent custody changes as needed to preserve your legal rights.

Should you believe that your child is in immediate danger of harm, contact law enforcement. In non-emergency situations, contact my office as soon as possible to speak with a Little Rock custody attorney. I also serve clients in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.