Abduction of Children
When a divorced parent takes a child from home without permission.
- A divorced parent who has custody of children is not prevented from removing the children from the area of jurisdiction of the court granting the custody order, or even from taking them abroad, if this is not done to deprive the other parent of access and is neither unduly hard on that parent nor clearly against the overriding interest of the children.
- If, however, the order of the court prohibits removal – for instance, by specifying the exact nature of access of the other parent – the children may be removed only if that parent consents or if the court changes its order.
- A parent who fails to obey a court order regarding custody of, or access to, children may be guilty of contempt of court, punishable by imprisonment or alternative sanction. It is even an offence if the parent who has custody removes the children to a different address and fails to notify the other parent in writing of the change of address.
INTERDICT Sometimes a parent may reasonably believe that his or her ex-spouse may try to flee the country with the child – whether the ex-spouse has custody of the child. In such a case, the parent can ask the court for an interdict – an order restraining the ex-spouse from carrying out his or her suspected intention.
- To apply for an interdict, a parent should approach an attorney. An interdict can be granted within a brief period and, if the matter is sufficiently urgent, a judge can be requested at any hour of the day or night to grant the order.
Source: ‘you and your rights’