Parental abduction cases can prove hard to resolve - 8 News NOW

Parental abduction cases can prove hard to resolve

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LAS VEGAS -- Mothers and fathers kidnapping their own children is more common than one might think. In the United States, more than half were abducted by their father and one-quarter were abducted by their mother.  It can be difficult for custodial parents to get their children back, even with a signed order from a judge.

One Las Vegas attorney who has handled hundreds of kidnapping cases says local police often won't help get kids returned to the custodial parent. He says, some parents have to wait months before kids are back home.

Since Saturday, police have been looking for leads in the alleged kidnapping of 3-year-old Katies Battle. The child's mother, Shelly Mitchell took the girl from her father's home during a family gathering.

"Our detectives have exhausted many resources in attempting to reach out to Shelly, without success at this point," said Officer Aaron Patty, North Las Vegas Police Department.

Officers have been calling, texting and emailing the girl's mother.

"We need to get her side of the story and figure out what her motives were," Officer Patty said.

The difficulty investigators are facing is no surprise to attorney Louis Schneider. He's handled hundreds of cases where parents have taken back their own kids when they don't have the legal right to do so.

 "Parents do have a constitutional right to be a parent, and parents feel that that's their children," said Louis Schneider.

He says when parents kidnap their kids, the parent who has the legal right to the child often can't get them back, even with a court order.

Schneider says police often refuse to enforce custody court orders. One of his most frustrating cases happened in May. He says police refused to remove a child that he believed was in a dangerous situation.

"Mom's a known drug user, associating with a white supremacist who recently went to prison for beating the heck out of her," Schneider said. "The Sergeant came down, and politely told me that he was not going to put people at risk, kicking down doors, for a civil court order."

Schneider says he was forced to call the Nevada Attorney General's office who sent in state law enforcement within hours.

"There's not a single law that I know of that says the police have the option of not enforcing civil court orders," he said.

He wants police to enforce all court custody orders because, he says, kids' safety can be at risk.

He recommends parents caught in a messy custody dispute should file a complaint for divorce and then file an injunction saying the child can not be removed from the state. He says it is not foolproof, but a good start.


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