How Virginia courts address international abduction of children

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Some non-custodial parents in Virginia have difficulty grasping the idea that the court has the authority to award custody of the child to the other parent or a guardian in the best interest of the child. However, if the biological parent takes the minor child in violation of the child custody order, that parent may face severe penalties under state law. In a case where the non-custodial parent illegally takes the child beyond the state borders of Virginia or even out of the country, federal charges may be brought against the non-custodial parent who has abducted the child.

There are civil as well as criminal remedies available in cases of international abduction of a minor child by a non-custodial parent. The custodial parent has the right to initiate civil proceedings to have the child returned. Law enforcement authorities may also charge the non-custodial parent with the crime of kidnapping.

A non-custodial parent who is not satisfied with custody and visitation arrangements has the option of consulting an attorney in order to seek modification of the child custody order. Violating the existing custody order can have severe consequences and in many cases involving parental kidnapping the crime will result in revocation of the offender's existing visitation and child custody rights.

In a case of interstate child abduction, determining which court has jurisdiction becomes very important. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act sets out rules for deciding when a court has authority to decide the issue and when it must defer to the rulings of another state's court. Parents dealing with interstate or international custody issues can benefit from consulting a family law attorney with experience in this area of the law.

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