Of the kaleidoscope of challenges and stresses that strain a marriage—money problems, issues raising kids, making your relationship a priority when just dealing with the day to day of life drains most of your energy—infidelity is the one that goes straight to the core of attacking the binds of your marriage, trust and intimacy. Rebuilding your marriage and healing the wound of betrayal is possible and you come out on the other side with a stronger, more intimate bond. It’s been proven that infidelity doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. The opposite can happen.
Rebuilding Your Marriage
1. Come clean. The first step toward repairing the rift is to be honest. It’s likely going to be brutal to step up and admit that you have hurt your wife, but if you want to save your marriage, you need to have the courage to face the truth, no matter the anguish it will unleash on you both.
A study of married couples by UCLA and the University of Washington concluded the one proven road back to marital stability and satisfaction was: admitting the affair. The numbers don’t lie. At the end of the 5 year study, 43% of couples who confessed their unfaithfulness were divorced compared with 80% of the couples who hid their adultery when their spouse later discovered it. Honesty was the key distinction in whether the relationships survived. In fact, when the cheater accepted accountability, the marriage could rebound to a happy union. At the conclusion of the study, couples who survived an affair experienced comparable levels of marital stability and satisfaction as the couples who experienced no adultery at all.
2. End the affair. Maintaining an illicit affair is just mindless, cruel, self serving and selfish. It does nothing positive for your marital relationship and, if anything, threatens the very existence of your marriage. Nothing is more devastating to a spouse than to find out her husband is having an affair. If you’re not suspected of having an affair, STOP. As much as there may be physical attraction and fleeting reward for you personally, it is destroying your marriage. The lies, the missed events, the tardy arrivals will ultimately tip off your spouse to your infidelity and your affair will be discovered if it hasn’t been already. Regardless of how discrete you think you may be, you will be found out, and you will destroy your relationship in the process. If there is any hope for rebuilding your marriage, the affair must end. Then and only then can real healing begin.
3. Give her space. If and when you break he news that you’ve been unfaithful your spouse will be devastated and she’ll be blitzed with a storm of raw emotions: shock, rage, betrayal, shame, depression, sadness. Temper your confession with compassion and understanding. As your wife rages and begins to attack you, be kind. Be gentle. Agree with her as much as humanly possible. She’s going through a very difficult time and arguing with her at this point is not in your best interests, not if you have any hope of rebuilding your marriage. Getting through this torrent of emotions will not be easy. Seek therapy and marriage counseling if at all possible. As financially challenging as therapy and counseling may be, consider it a financial investment into your future with your wife. Getting into deeper issues, like why you strayed, is best done when you are in a safe, counseling environment. You likely didn’t cheat one day out of the blue. There were multiple factors that led to it. And you won’t recover from the infidelity overnight either. It’s a very process and one that will likely take four to five years to regain some relative normality. Take your time. Eventually you will both come to understand what incited you to begin the affair and how each of you had some level of responsibility for its inception. The good news is that your marriage can emerge rock solid and more gratifying once you grapple with and solve those deeper underlying issues.
4. Consult a marriage counselor. Should you and your wife decide to try and work through the affair and the damage it has caused in your relationship, it is highly advisable that you not try to work out your challenges alone. A marriage counselor or mediator would be an expert guide to get the two of you back on the road to reconciliation. There are likely multiple underlying issues that lead to the betrayal and each of you share some level of responsibility for the existence of those issues. Only a qualified counselor, clergyman or mediator may help get you both to the core of those issues and give rational direction on how to resolve them. An affair is most likely a result of unhappiness that exists on both sides of the relationship. Discovering, facing and resolving the root of that discontent will lead to a healthier and more satisfying marriage than you had before the infidelity.
5. Rebuild trust. Trust is a delicate thing. It is a product of prolonged physical and emotional fidelity. And while it would be a huge relief to be able to confess and move on right away, that’s just not in the realm of reality. Once your infidelity has been exposed, whether through your wife’s discovery or by your confession, her trust of you and your actions will be gone. Everything you do, everywhere you go, everyone you see or might see will be questioned, over and over again. Her trust in you and your intentions has been lost, gone, and it won’t return anytime soon. If you’re patient, the seed of trust can grow again. but it’ll take time, patience and endurance on both your parts. Trust can build slowly, over years, by a long series of small commitments and verified successes, each event, each schedule, each meeting, each announcement planned, and each reality checked, challenged and found to be truthful. Through these seemingly endless commitments and successes, its possible to break through the hard, cold distrust of your actions and rebuild trust in your actions.
6. Forgive. While forgiveness may happen, forgetting won’t. But it doesn’t have to: only forgiving matters. Again, this won’t happen overnight, and you can’t impose any kind of definitive deadline on it. But with continued commitment to your marriage and your relationship it is possible to restore trust and intimacy in your marriage. By facing the issues that led to your urge to stray together, your wife may see that while flawed (as we all are), you are worthy of forgiveness. If she refuses to forgive, you have run up against a wall to healing and moving forward. Try and convince her to give therapy a shot as professional help may be needed to get over the barricade and back on track to reconciliation.
An affair doesn’t have to be the last chapter in your marriage. Your adultery can be a wake-up call that your marriage is in serious trouble and on a dangerous path to destruction. If you’re upfront and honest, willing to face the consequences and put in the work in rebuilding your marriage and fix the problems, your honesty about your extramarital affair may prove to be a turning point toward a more satisfying relationship and a brighter future for both you and your spouse.
Are you looking for divorce advice for men? What? You don’t want a divorce? Then it’s good I got your attention before you did anything stupid, like taking the leap into infidelity. If you’re reading this, you’re likely tempted to cheat on your spouse. Maybe just an anonymous hook-up in…
Convince Your Spouse To Save Your Marriage How to Stop Focusing on the Problems and Focus on Solutions Love is a two-way street and you won’t go very far traveling solo. But when it comes to convincing your spouse and yourself to save your marriage, there are ways you can get…
Why Entrepreneurs Divorce Five Reasons Successful Professionals Suck at Love As I write this, I'm thinking of a few famous self-starters who've managed to make it the distance. But for every Bill and Melinda. there are 10 or more Trump and Ivanas out in the world. Divorce is annoyingly common. But…
We all know that feeling and looking our best requires doing things to promote our mental and physical health. The good news is that not everything that’s good for you is agonizing. Here are ten health tips you can start today that don’t involve turning your lifestyle upside down, spending a ton of cash or exposing yourself to excruciating torment.
While every guy needs to implement these healthy habits, it’s even more essential for divorced men to prioritize their health, because they are at higher risk for a slew of illnesses like cancer and heart attacks. And that’s not all: according to the Huffington Post, divorced and single men have higher rates of mortality and are more prone to substance abuse and depression than married men.
10 Easy Health Tips To Start Now
Laugh a lot.
Laughter really is great medicine; it eases stress and depression, promotes social bonding, and lowers blood pressure. Want to get your giggle on? Take a date or your posse out to a comedy show. For those days when putting on pants is too much effort, find a comedy special on Netflix. Reruns of Saturday Night Live, Arrested Development or websites like funnyordie.com also have good “laugh until you cry” sketches and shows.
Just breathe, deeply.
Taking time to take a breather can be one of the most simple but effective ways to relax and slow your heart rate. Breath through your nose until your lungs are full. They’ll fill with nitric oxide, a chemical found in the back of your nose that opens up blood vessels. The dose of oxygen will make you feel happier and more alert. This is also a handy way to calm yourself down when feeling anxious or nervous, like before an important meeting, presentation or first date.
Sleep on it.
Seven hours of sleep a night not only helps you live longer, but also lowers your stress, sharpens your memory, and reduces cravings for junk foods.
Keep it colorful.
Eat nine handfuls of colorful fruits and vegetables each day. The different colors represent different good for you things your body needs to function at its finest. These foods are often more powerful than the drugs sold in pharmacies, and without the scary side effects.
Get up, go out, and get going.
Sweat for just an hour a week and you’ll enjoy a range of benefits: reduced risk of heart attack, better mood, more energy, and lower blood pressure. Men who exercise enough to burn 200 calories a day also significantly lower their chances of impotence. Yeah, these health tips help your sex life, too! That’s because impotence often has the same cause as heart attacks: blocked arteries. So engage in a little activity that doesn’t involve tossing the couch cushions aside and fervently searching for the remote. Your, uh, little buddy downstairs will thank you.
Form tight social networks.
And I don’t mean that dude you went to grade school with on Facebook. Have a couple friends or family members you can talk to when things are on your mind and you can call on when you feel overwhelmed and need help. This is one of those health tips that can get you out of the house for beer and wings with a buddy. If you face life’s stresses alone, you will make yourself older. Not a people person? Get a dog or cat or bird or gerbil. Spending time with a pet is more effective at reducing stress than spending time with friends, girlfriends, or alcohol.
Get rid of the gut.
Visceral fat (the stuff that settles in your abdomen) lets toxins seep into your vital organs, which is why round-bellied men die sooner than flat-bellies. Grab a tape measure and put it around your body at the level of your belly button. That number should be less than half your height.
Moderation and food choices are key in trimming belly fat and keeping it off, so eat six small meals a day instead of three big ones—you’ll stave off hunger and avoid overeating. Keep the beer to 1 or 2 instead of 3 or 4 and eat some protein, veggies and healthy fats with those processed carbs. Bonus, you’ll reduce your risk for heart attack and diabetes.
Nuts are among the best sources of healthful fats and protein around. Best part is there’s no cooking or clean up. Unless you chew with your mouth open, which is a whole other problem.
Eat in more.
If you cook at home, you not only save money but also gain control over what goes into your meals. A tremendous amount of calories hide in sauces, dressing and soups at restaurants. Food is cooked in fatty oils, butter and sugar. Portions are usually double what your calorie intake should be.If you do eat out, take half home for lunch the next day. It’s cheaper and better for you.
Have regular colonoscopy and prostate serum antigen testing.
Both of these tests are crucial in spotting two common and potentially lethal diseases — colon and prostate cancer — that are still curable if detected early enough. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a prolonged and painful death. As William Shakespeare might have said: check yourself, before you wreck yourself.
Every man deserves a happy and satisfying life, even after divorce. Start implementing these tips today for a healthier life – and have fun!
How to Start Getting Your Life Back
When most people think of prison, parenthood, much less fathers’ rights, is not something that comes to mind. Yet, there are 2.7 million children in this country with a parent in prison or jail.
The overwhelming majority of incarcerated parents, ninety-five percent, are fathers. Many of these dads are not new to the prison system; in fact, 2 out of 3 inmates re-offend after their release and end up back inside.
It is not surprising that incarcerated dads are usually fatherless themselves when you consider that growing up in a fatherless household dramatically increases a child’s odds of ending up in prison. If dads in prison want to give their children a better chance at a more promising future than they had, it is critical that they reintegrate into society and their children’s lives in a way that is functional and healthy. The problems many dads face in integration include a lack of parenting skills, decreased self-confidence, barriers to jobs and housing, lack of education, and discrimination based on their status as ex-convicts.
While reentry into society may not be an easy road, dads returning into their children’s lives must make an effort on three critical fronts: finding a place to live, getting a job, and being a positive influence in their children’s lives. Unfortunately, once prisoners leave the highly structured life of prison, there are few resources to help them start over.
Very few dads are returning to a loving family when released. They usually lack the money to rent a place, and if they do have money for first and last month’s rent plus security deposit, they are likely to find their applications repeatedly turned down after landlords run a background check. Homeless shelters and the streets may be the only place to turn. Newly released dads find it nearly impossible to secure a job without a place of residence, making finding housing a critical step for establishing themselves.
How to search for housing
- Start by contacting churches, religious organizations, non-profit groups and government agencies in your area that offer housing for those in need and those that specifically help newly released prisoners. These include temporary housing, half-way houses, shelters, and low-income housing. There are organizations such as Delancey Street, which offer housing for ex-convicts who need to take the first step to getting back on their feet.
- Check out the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC), an organization dedicated to helping those that have been incarcerated and their families find local reentry services.
- Follow up with phone calls. Find out if there are any openings and ask what rules or requirements they may have.
- Choose the ones that seem to offer the most suitable solutions and make appointments for an on-site tour. Bring a notebook to write down what is needed to get started in case you find a good place and want to move forward in applying for housing.
Finding a Job
The U.S. Department of Labor Resources for Ex-offenders is a good place to begin. The site is easy to navigate even with limited internet skills. Click on the Get Started Guide, and it will walk you through finding what you need. It covers everything from Finding State Resources for your state, to figuring out how to start the job hunt, getting your GED or job training, exploring possible careers, and tips for putting together a resume. Unsure how to get references, find job listings or bring up your conviction in your job interview? The guide covers all these topics, and more.
Organizations such as Goodwill, and agencies like the State Employment Offices, offer job programs to get ex-offenders back into the workforce.
Reuniting with Your Children
Coming back home is not only an adjustment for dad, but it is also a big change for kids, too. There are a few tips to make reuniting after an extended absence go more smoothly. With some effort, fathers can reestablish themselves in their kids’ lives while minimizing the stress it puts upon kids who may not be sure how to react to the new normal.
- Talk to your kids about how happy you are to be a part of their lives again and how you missed them. Try to keep from making too many promises up front, let the trust build as they see, over time, that you are back for good this time.
- Ease them into your return by praising them for staying strong and helping out when you were away. Let them know you are proud of them.
- Be patient if they act out or seem unsure how to behave. Children and adolescents are less experienced dealing with emotions and change and may respond with negative behavior. Try to avoid reprimanding them for every little thing. Give them some space to make a few mistakes and to figure out how to respond to dad being back in their lives. They will eventually sort things out and begin to become more confident that you are not going to abandon them again.
- Try to avoid power struggles. This will put you and your kids in an adversarial relationship, and you want to try to become a family again, not become mired in conflict.
- Ask them about school, their lives and the things that matter to them. They may be anxious or unsure at first, so let them express themselves without judgment. Once they become comfortable and more confident, they will open up to you more. The key is not to force anything. Let them come to you at their own pace.
Reentry Services by State
Need an easy place to start looking for services in your area that help those recently incarcerated get into housing, find jobs, access family services, and more? Click on your state on the Reentry Services Directory Map.
Fathers’ Rights After Release
Fathers rights as they pertain to housing, employment, and reunification with their children vary by state. There are some federal laws, such as The Fair Housing Act which provides legal protection to ex-offenders across the country. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for landlords to ban all ex-convicts from renting. However, there are exceptions to the regulation, for example, if you are a registered sex offender you can be banned from living within a designated proximity to a school. To complicate the issue, some savvy landlords will blame your rejected application on something other than your criminal record to get around the law. If you feel you may have been discriminated against, contact an attorney for help or file a complaint online.
Fathers rights when it comes to employment and reunification can be complex and vary by the offense you served time for and by the particulars of your custody case. You may have to put in considerable time to research the laws that apply to your case or seek legal counsel for help. Don’t get discouraged; there is help out here if you are willing to put in the effort to find it and to follow through. Your kids are counting on you. Let them be the motivation you need to make a better way for your future, and theirs.
(c) Can Stock Photo / dabjola
There was a time when family court judges automatically ruled in favor of the mother. While vestiges of this default primary custody bias may still be felt in some areas of the country, the tide is turning. More and more, courts of law no longer presume that mothers are more…
Fathers Rights advocates understand that a man who is incarcerated does not bear the weight of his punishment alone. His family—especially those most dependent and vulnerable, his children—also suffer. Kids of imprisoned fathers face well documented adverse effects. Having a dad in jail or prison puts his kids at higher…
As a newly divorced dad, you may feel a sense of emptiness or loss of identity when everything’s finalized. Especially if you no longer live with your kids, you may wonder how exactly you can succeed in fatherhood after divorce. The most important thing to focus on is maintaining a…
Fathers Rights advocates understand that a man who is incarcerated does not bear the weight of his punishment alone. His family—especially those most dependent and vulnerable, his children—also suffer. Kids of imprisoned fathers face well documented adverse effects. Having a dad in jail or prison puts his kids at higher risk to experience poverty, suffer from addiction, or end up behind bars themselves. These children often live with trauma, shame, social stigmatization, guilt, and financial hardship. As if the picture is not bleak enough, incarceration leads to generational institutionalization. Growing up fatherless is the number one predictor of criminal behavior in a child’s future. In fact, most dads in prison are fatherless. It’s a tragic cycle.
This is not just a family problem. With 1.5 million kids in this country separated from their fathers as a result of state or federal incarceration, it is a societal issue. Add inmates imprisoned in jails, and the number jumps to 1 out of 28 U.S. children. And the problem is growing. The number of children with a father in prison has skyrocketed by 79% since 1991. To help these children, we all have a stake in helping these fathers. In fact, dads who have a relationship with their kids are less likely to re-offend. That’s a huge benefit to these children, who are our country’s future, and to society as a whole, since two-thirds of prisoners end up committing crimes which land them back in prison within three years of their release.
Barriers to Parenthood in Prison
As an incarcerated father, you face unique parenting challenges. It can be difficult to see your children if you are imprisoned. There may be no one willing to bring your children to visit you. If you lack the means to pay support, it can affect your kids and your custody rights once you get out, and simple communication via phone and mail can be unaffordable while inside. Private phone companies are making a killing exploiting those who have the least money to pay, holding their relationships with their loved-ones hostage for up to $24.95 for a fifteen minute, in-state phone conversation.
Free, in-person visits are the newest area targeted by private companies for profit. There is a trend to replace in-person connection with video visitation technology that charges up to $1.50 a minute for low quality, offsite video conferencing.
Distance presents another hurdle for fathers behind bars. Proximity to family members is not always taken into account in determining where a prisoner will be sent to serve his time. Fathers rights take a back seat to considerations of overcrowding and other issues. As the distance loved ones must traverse to visit incarcerated family members increases, the likelihood of getting a visit, and the number of visits, decreases.
What are Fathers Rights in Prison?
From the inside, it can be difficult to find information on fathers’ rights or to access legal resources. The feeling of powerlessness and the struggle to stay in touch add to the strain of prison life for dads that are serving time. It may not be easy, but it is vital to stay in touch with your children, for their benefit as well as for yours. Children who have a relationship with their father have a better shot at a brighter future, and inmates who maintain healthy relationships with their loved ones are less likely to return to prison.
Tips for Protecting Fathers Rights While Incarcerated
1. Maintain Visitation
If your children are unable to visit because of financial hardship, distance, or other reasons, then keep in touch by phone. Lack of interest can be used as grounds to terminate a fathers’ rights and clear the path for adoption by your ex’s new husband, by your child’s caregivers, or the foster parents.
The onus is on you, as a father, to research and know the laws of your state. Seek legal counsel if necessary. Time is one resource that is abundant in prison; invest it wisely into nurturing meaningful contact with your kids and educating yourself on how your state’s laws function.
2. Document your Progress
Make a record of the positive steps you have taken while in prison to be a good father and to prepare yourself for success once you get out. Upon your release, you will have to prove to the judge that you can safely care for your kids. These records will show your efforts to visit and contact your children, as well as classes and certifications you have earned from rehabilitation programs. Be detailed; write down the time and date of everything you do for your child. A documented list of your interactions with your kids and others involved in their care will go a long way in convincing a judge you are serious about being a good parent.
How to make a record:
- Use a notebook or piece of paper to keep track of all visits and calls with your child and anyone connected to your case. Be sure to write down the date and time. Add any additional notes you feel were important to remember about the call or meeting.
- Include calls and visits from your child, your child’s caregiver, your lawyer and the social worker.
- Write down dates of letters or pictures you send your child and keep a copy.
- Attend programs and meetings offered by your institution. Keep a record of these and any copies of certificates of completion. Some detention facilities offer classes on parenting, be sure to attend these if offered. Do not only take classes or participate in programs that are mandatory; take the initiative by taking advantage of resources that are voluntary.
- Ask the teachers and counselors of any programs you complete if they can write a letter about your performance.
Tips to stay actively involved in your child’s life:
- Ask about their education. Ask to see report cards, inquire about their favorite classes and any challenges they may be having.
- Be supportive and understanding of their daily achievements and struggles.
- Stay focused on your kids and their needs. Try not to add to their burden by placing your problems or issues on them. Keep visits positive, so your children leave with a good feeling.
- Be patient and let the relationship grow slowly and steadily. Trying to force things will likely have the opposite effect of making your child more closed off and resistant. Nurturing a relationship takes time.
3. Stay on Top of Child Support
Father’s rights, when incarcerated with a Child Support Order, vary by state, but whichever jurisdiction your judgment falls under, you must be informed to avoid the risk of leaving prison with a mountain of debt. On average, an incarcerated parent with a Child Support Order can potentially leave prison with nearly $20,000 in child support debt, having entered detention with around half that amount owed.
Laws regarding Child Support and incarceration:
Whether incarcerated or not, a material and substantial change in circumstances is required to modify child support orders in most states. Two situations that may be treated as a material and substantial change in circumstances are incarceration and unemployment. State policies regarding modification of child support during incarceration vary and depend on a number of factors.
A significant reduction in income due to a job loss or job change is generally considered a material and substantial change for modifying child support if the job loss or reduction in earnings was involuntary (usually meaning you were fired or laid off). If a parent tries to avoid child support payments by voluntarily losing their job (such as quitting work or refusing to work), it is not considered a material and substantial change of circumstances and would not qualify for modifying child support.
Currently, there is a federal rule in place that makes it illegal for state child support programs to treat incarceration as voluntary unemployment, which means you can request a modification of your child support to take into account that you are no longer able to work in the same capacity you did on the outside.
Be aware: most states require you to be proactive in making that request. You must familiarize yourself with the process to file a modification and to do so within the mandated time limit. In a couple of states, the responsibility is not on the incarcerated father to file, but these are the rare exceptions. Recent California law requires the Child Support Order to be automatically suspended in the cases of incarceration or involuntarily institutionalized. Vermont and Wisconsin allow the child support agency to file a motion to modify the Child Support Orders on behalf of those fathers that are incarcerated. The key is to seek legal counsel or do your research, so you are informed. The burden of filing falls on the father.
The consequences of falling behind on child support are not merely added debt. Non-payment can be used against you in custody judgments and can result in revocation of privileges once you are released, such as an industry licenses, business licenses or your driver’s license.
To find out the laws that apply to your case, check the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement State-by-State-How to Change a Child Support Order page and the Modification Laws and Policies for Incarcerated Noncustodial Parents facts sheet.
4. Access Free Resources
Here are a few online resources for information, support and more.
The Prison Fellowship offers resources that tackle everything from how to avoid “visiting room sabotage” to offering interactive activities for visiting day.
The National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated is “the oldest and largest organization in the U.S. focused on children and families of the incarcerated and programs that serve them.”
For fathers of young children, Sesame Street offers a wonderful Incarceration Toolkit that uses the characters in the show to introduce the idea of a father’s incarceration to young kids in an entertaining way that they can understand.
When fathers rights are used to promote a healthy, ongoing relationship with their children, we all profit as a society. Benefits include a reduction in recidivism for incarcerated dads, a more promising future for their children, a decrease in taxpayer-funded detention facilities, and healthier communities for us all. All that is needed to break the cycle of the damaging effects of fatherlessness is for fathers to assert their legal rights to pursue positive father-child involvement.
(c) Can Stock Photo / fuzzbones
There was a time when family court judges automatically ruled in favor of the mother. While vestiges of this default primary custody bias may still be felt in some areas of the country, the tide is turning. More and more, courts of law no longer presume that mothers are more…
Like most details in dealing in a divorce, child visitation, and visitation rights, come with their own pitfalls. Thankfully, many of those are explicitly spelled out, if your state has set Child Parenting Time Guidelines (as my state calls them), or an equivalent thereof. These are set guidelines to give…
What is a parent’s worst nightmare? Just about every parent will agree the most terrifying scenario possible is your child is abducted. The horror of parental kidnapping, your child missing without any idea where they are, if they are safe, or if you will ever see them again is almost unimaginable. The anguish of being separated from your child is intensified by the torture of not knowing.
Most abducted children are taken by a family member
While all parents understand the fear of child abduction, many don’t realize that most kidnappings in the United States are not perpetrated by strangers. Kidnapping by a relative referred to as “family kidnapping,” accounts for forty-nine percent of all abductions. Family kidnapping is usually committed by parents, and overwhelmingly by female family members (forty-three percent). According to the Justice Department, approximately 155,800 children are kidnapped in “serious” parental abductions every year. These cases vary widely. Some parents abscond with their kids across state lines. Others take their children and leave the country. (Parents Magazine, 2017) (Washington Post, 2017)
Parental kidnapping and the Law
The federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act outlaws parental abduction across all states by applying the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution to all child-custody cases. This means that while custody laws vary by state, custody decisions made in one state’s court must be upheld in all other states. This law ensures you are protected by the terms of your custody agreement even if your ex-wife leaves your state.
Parental Abduction is against state law in every U.S. state, in addition to violating federal law. Parental kidnapping is when one parent takes, withholds, or conceals his or her child(ren) in defiance of a court-mandated custody order. This can apply to both visitation and custody rights.
When a parent abducts a child, or children, to circumvent a custody battle or decision, the law is less clear. Some states do not recognize one parent leaving with a child, or children, as a criminal act if no formal custody order is in place and the parents are not living together. However, many states have mandated the abduction of a child across state lines by a parent as a crime, even without a custody order. It is therefore critical to seek professional legal advice, or do your research, to determine how the law in your state applies to parental kidnapping if you and your ex-wife do not have a court-sanctioned custody agreement.
If your ex-wife absconds with your child in violation of your custody order hefty fines, jail time, loss of custody, loss of visitation and termination of parental rights are all potential legal judgments. Additional legal penalties for crossing state lines can also be weighed. If she flees the country, then things become less clear. Some countries participate in international treaties, such as The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, and will cooperate with U.S. law enforcement to try and recover your missing children.
Countries with no existing international agreements pose a greater difficulty. If you suspect or know, your ex has left the country with your kid(s), contact an attorney specializing in international custody disputes that can help you leverage political pressure and international resources for the safe return of your family.
Five Important Facts about Parental Kidnapping
If your ex-wife refuses to show up with your child for visitation or shared custody, she is violating your custody order. While a mix of intense emotions will surely overcome you as you realize she is withholding your child and may have left the area, state, or country; the key to a positive outcome is to keep your composure so you can act quickly and strategically.
The sooner you act, the better your chances of getting your kids home as soon as possible. Knowledge is power and armed with these five facts you stand a much better chance at dealing with parental abduction in a way that will lead to the safe recovery of your children.
1. Know your Rights
Law enforcement may try to get you to wait and see if your ex returns with your child before taking action. Some officers are inclined to treat a parental abduction as a family dispute and not a crime. It is not unheard of for the police to put off taking a report or initiating an investigation. They may try to convince you to wait until your ex-wife transports your child to another state.
While patience may be a virtue in many situations, this is not one of those! If you are asked to wait, advise the officer you are aware the 1990 National Child Search and Assistance Act prohibits law enforcement agencies from creating waiting periods before accepting a missing-child report, regardless of custody status, and that The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act of 1993 and the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act of 2006 all require they act immediately.
2. Know which Agencies to Contact
There are a number of resources to help you recover your kids. While your first instinct may be to hunt down your family yourself, your best bet is to enlist the expertise of professional agencies. Get ahold of them immediately. Timing is critical.
- The Center for Missing and Exploited Children http://www.missingkids.org/theissues/familyabduction (This is the organization that issues Amber Alerts)
- The FBI (your local field office): https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices. The nearest FBI International office: https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/legal-attache-offices
- IF your child is taken out of the country, you can contact the U.S. State Department International Parental Child Abduction.
3. File a Complaint for Contempt
If your ex-wife is returning your kids late, missing some visitations, or otherwise playing fast and loose with the custody rules, filing a complaint for contempt can be a good move to head her off before she takes more extreme measures and decides to leave with them and not return at all. This complaint asks the Probate and Family Court to order the other parent to obey your custody order. An attorney can help you file this with the court. If the court decides the other parent is disobeying the order, it can put them in jail until they do obey it.
4. Be prepared
If you suspect your ex is capable, and maybe even likely, of taking off with your child, there are steps you can take right now. If delay is your enemy in the safe return of your family, preparation is your greatest ally. Having a few critical things in order can make all the difference in deploying help at a moment’s notice. Don’t wait until you in the midst of the terror and confusion of a kidnapping to get your ducks in a row.
- Have recent photos of your kid(s) and your ex-wife easily accessible.
- Have a copy (or a few copies) of your custody order.
- Have a list of all daycare providers, schools, and after-school programs in case the police want to check with them before declaring your child missing.
- Have a detailed list of your ex-wife’s transportation and personally identifying information. This should include a description of her car(s), license plate(s), who she may be traveling with, credit card and banking info, and any other pertinent information that may lead to her whereabouts.
- Get a Parental Abduction Search Checklist
MissingKids.CA offers a thorough, easy-to-follow pamphlet that details each step to take in the event your worst nightmare becomes a reality. You will likely find it hard to focus and think on your feet when you are faced with a parent’s most menacing fear. With this packet at the ready, all you will have to do is follow the steps laid out for you.
The wise adage “Forewarned is forearmed” applies to parental kidnapping. When you are aware of a danger, you can adequately prepare to ensure the best outcome. As a parent, your priority is to protect your children and keep them safe. While there is no way to be with your kids every moment, there are some powerful precautions you can take today that may save them from future danger.
(c) Can Stock Photo / Bialasiewicz
This article was written by Teresa Virani, Co-Founder of coparently – a scheduling and communication tool for divorced and separated parents to organize & manage shared custody. Adjusting to co-parenting after divorce or separation is often a huge transition for dads. And when you haven’t been the primary caregiver before,…
You should review and change your will when you go through major life transformations, and divorce is one of the most disruptive life transitions. By updating your will you are avoiding future problems with loved ones over your estate and ensuring your wishes are carried out exactly as you intended.…
Co-parenting is your single most important right, as well as your single most important responsibility with your ex-spouse post-divorce. If you can co-parent amicably (and no doubt that's a challenge), your children gain stability and the chance to maintain close relationships with both parents. But just how can you deal with or…