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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78021 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Child Snatching - The Legal Response to the Abduction of Children
Author(s): S N Katz
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 213
Sponsoring Agency: American Bar Assoc Press
Chicago, IL 60637
National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
Washington, DC 20531
Sale Source: American Bar Assoc Press
Publications Coordinator
1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This book analyzes the problem of parental kidnapping of children in the United States during or after divorce and separation by focusing on the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction (UCCJ) Act as the most important legal deterrent to child snatching.
Abstract: The act itself is examined and cases decided under the act are reviewed and compared. The text notes that estimated incidents of child snatching run up to 100,000 a year, facilitated by the Supreme Court's limited application of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution to child custody decrees and by conflicting or multiple bases for exercising jurisdiction in child custody cases among the States. The provisions of the UCCJ, now enacted in 44 States, are designed to counteract this legal potential for parents to remove their children from one State to another. The central principle of the act is to keep a child custody case in one single State court by defining a child's home State and using the 'forum non conveniens' when two States appear to have jurisdiction at the same time. In addition, the 'clean hands' doctrine prevents a custody decree from being reopened in a new State. Weaknesses of the act are identified as the amount of discretion left with the trial judges in custody cases and the lack of a direct requirement for interstate cooperation. Examination of the cases tried under UCCJ indicates success of the jurisdictional definition of home State and the concept of 'significant connection,' which prevents unnecessary assumption of the 'parens patriae' principle, except in cases where grounds exist for emergency jurisdiction. A positive trend is shown by the fact that courts in States that have not enacted the UCCJ often apply its provisions and principles of their own volition. Although the UCCJ itself makes no formal reference to any remedy, the remedies available to aggrieved parents in the State courts include criminal kidnapping and interference laws, civil tort liability, civil contempt, and the writ of habeas corpus. Appendixes contain a table of jurisdictions and the text of the UCCJ Act, a table of criminal statutes, State kidnapping and interference statutes, and the text of the Parental Kidnapping and Prevention Act of 1980. A table of cases, footnotes, an index, and 40 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Child Abduction; Child custody; Jurisdiction; Kidnapping; Laws and Statutes; State courts; State laws
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