I have one daughter, aged 10. My ex husband and I have been involved in a bitter custody battle. Two weeks ago, he took our daughter for his weekly visitation and did not bring her home. It’s been 10 days and I am paralyzed with fear. I called my attorney and the police but nothing has been done yet. Please help me as I am going out of my mind with worry.
First, I want to say how terribly sorry I am that you are experiencing this. This behavior of your ex-husband’s behavior is completely unacceptable. It sounds like you are doing what you would be instructed to do and that is to contact the police and your attorney and its still been ten days and no word on your daughter.
There are two bits of information you did not provide me with. Where you live and if you have a very well defined visitation schedule. Let me start with the well defined visitation schedule. Without one, your ex-husband has a lot of leeway as far as where he can take your daughter and for how long. If your divorce decree states that you have a liberal visitation policy in place he is allowed to take her for as long as he likes. Now that I said that, there are clearly rules with regards to right and wrong and respect for the other parent.
I am going to assume that you have a well defined visitation schedule that outlines the dates and times that you share custody – ie – every other week or every two weeks, etc. If you do, he is contempt and I would follow contempt of visitation in your jurisdiction IMMEDIATELY. The filing fee should be in the $25-35 range, give or take a few dollars in either direction.
The next thing I suggest is to file with the Center of Missing and Exploited Children. This is the John Walsh organization and they are based in Virginia. They are excellent at finding missing children and have an incredible amount of experience with non-custodial parents who abduct children and let’s face it; your ex has abducted your daughter. They also have support services to include connecting you with parents who have been successfully united with their abducted children. From their stories you can obtain support along with suggestions and tips for locating your daughter and how to keep yourself as calm and focused as possible.
Once your ex-husband and daughter are found, you may want to file a motion, in your jurisdiction, to have all future visitation your daughter has with your ex-husband be supervised since he has proven to be a flight risk. The opportunity to take your daughter again should not be availed to him.
My prayers are with you during this unimaginable frightening time.