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« Domestic abuse | It's not just physical violence | Main | Mom's relocation of 91 miles causes change in custody »



Long story here. My wife and I made a financial decision for me to go to VA for work and she would remain in Michigan staying with my mother with my 2 children until I got a house. Once I got a home for us my wife refused to come to VA and then left my mothers house with my children. She refused to tell me where my children are and has broken or gotten rid of the cell phone and has not made contact with me in over a year at this point. I have no idea where my children are. Her parents are claiming they don't know either. She had a boyfriend that she left with. I am OK with her wanting out of our marriage but I am not OK with her taking my children. I have tried to report them missing but Michigan tells me I have to report them missing here in VA and VA tells me that since her last known location was in Michigan I have to report them missing there. There is no divorce and no custody paperwork. What options are open to me? I thank you for any advice you may have.

Jeanne M Hannah

Hello D. Hughes,

In Michigan, when a parent keeps the children more than 24 hours after they are due to the other parent for custody or parenting time, that is a felony punishable by 1 year and 1 day in prison.

From the facts that you recite, it sounds as though the children will already be overdue. I'd recommend, if your sister is comfortable with this, waiting to the date the father said he'd bring them back -- since it's only a day or two. He is allowed to take them out of state for a vacation.

However, children are more readily recovered in a parental kidnapping situation if prompt action is taken. Therefore, I highly recommend that your sister take action promptly if the children are not returned as promised.

You and your sister will find more specific information about parental abduction on my website:

D Hughes

When my sister dropped the kids off to her ex-husband, he told her that he was going out of state and would not have the kids back to her for over a week, which cuts into her visitation time by a few days. She lives in Michigan, is not the custodial parent, but does have joint custody. She did not give him permission to take them out of the state, nor did she give him permission to change the visitation agreement. He won't tell her where they are staying, what airline they are taking and won't answer his cell phone. She's not too worried that he won't return with them, but that's always a possibility. What are her options?

Jeanne M Hannah


Of course Michigan's parental kidnapping statute applies across the board. If a custodial parent keeps the non-custodial parent from having court-ordered parenting time with a child or children for more than 24 hours, that is also parental kidnapping.

Jeanne M Hannah

Doug Dante

FYI, Michigan's Law (MCL 750.350a) statute applies to all parents, regardless of custody.

(1) An adoptive or natural parent of a child shall not take that child, or retain that child for more than 24 hours, with the intent to detain or conceal the child from any other parent or legal guardian of the child who has custody or parenting time rights pursuant to a lawful court order at the time of the taking or retention, or from the person or persons who have adopted the child, or from any other person having lawful charge of the child at the time of the taking or retention.

(2) A parent who violates subsection (1) is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year and 1 day, or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.

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