How Your Lawyer Can Help With Spousal Child Abduction

Typically, the first thing we do is go to court and seek a custody order, but it also depends on when this family comes to us.

If a parent is fearful that the spouse might abduct the children, then we do proceed with the custody order right away. If they’ve come to us after the child has already been abducted, then we have a number of options.

We help them through the process of notifying the RCMP and notifying Passport Canada to put the child on the passport control list, although sometimes it’s too late to do that. Then we help them mobilize whatever avenue of redress they might have at that point. If the child has been abducted to a jurisdiction of a Hague signatory, we contact the Canadian bureau that deals with the implementation of the Hague Convention and assist our client in making whatever application is necessary and we correspond with the other jurisdiction.

If the child has gone to a jurisdiction that isn’t a signatory to the Hague Convention, we start by doing research for our client to decide where this matter should proceed, whether in a Canadian jurisdiction or in the jurisdiction where the child is at the time. If it’s a Canadian jurisdiction, we help them get that custody order and then find out how to get it enforced in the jurisdiction where the child is. The situation will probably involve some correspondence with authorities in that particular jurisdiction. We might also contact a lawyer that we may know who works and has knowledge of the law in that jurisdiction. We represent our client’s rights in any way that we can in order to get them a custody order and to get everybody safe at home.

Often the step to abduct one’s own child is taken as a tactical advantage, and we do see a lot of people threatening to do this, but in the vast majority of cases, an actual abduction doesn’t happen. Many people come to me and say, “My spouse has threatened to do this.” And of course, our response is generally the same whether it’s a threat or an actuality, because we do need to make sure that if there is that threat, that our client and their children are protected.

Typically, I encourage my client to report this threat to the police. Sometimes the police may not do anything more than make a note of it, but it’s certainly helpful to have proof that you did report the threat if the threat is ever acted on. In situations like these, I also encourage my clients to inform the Children’s Aid Society so that somebody is representing the best interest of the children throughout all of this.

If your spouse does threaten to take the child away, and you have any inclination that this threat might be serious, you should act immediately to secure your rights and make sure that your child will be safe. Sometimes people aren’t sure if the threat is real, or whether they even need to take any action. Don’t take a chance. It’s better to take it seriously and have your legal position in place so that your children are safe.


If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with family law issues in York Region, Durham Region or Toronto, contact Feldstein Family Law Group for a consultation.

This article is taken from a July 31, 2008 interview with Andrew Feldstein, Family Lawyer with Feldstein Family Law Group, a Toronto Ontario Family Law Firm. Note that laws vary from province to province. Please consult with a lawyer in your own area to be sure of the laws and specific issues in your own jurisdiction.