I have worked with a couple of parents lately who have been trying to get access to their kids, for parenting time allowed for in the decree or prior order — but the other parents in these cases have actually hidden the kids. And in a couple of cases, it was for more than a few years!
Whether parents in these situations move without disclosing a new address or are purposely hiding, they can and do evade their exes who are trying to continue their relationships with their children.
The best piece of advice I can give to people in this situation is to get a family lawyer involved. These cases can be complicated and can even involve coordinating with legal teams and law enforcement in another state, if the parent in question has crossed state lines in order to hide. A family lawyer will know what legal rights your decree affords you, what motions to file, how to work with judges to make progress on those motions, and when and how police can become involved in enforcement.
Even before you bring in a lawyer, though, there are certainly things you can do, beginning with trying to figure out where your kids are hidden. If you know where your child is going to school, you can certainly check in with school officials and let them know the situation. If your child has transferred to an unknown school, the last school your child attended may have transfer info that can help you find your child’s whereabouts.
You can also do a deep dive on their social media accounts. While it’s certainly possible that your ex has blocked you on social media channels, you might have friends or relatives who are still connected via Facebook or Instagram, and might be able to see posts that reveal locations.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of Google searches. It’s possible that your child could be hidden but your ex is in plain sight via recent information put up on the internet. If the parent hiding the child got a new job, for example, that parent’s work contact info might be up on the company website — giving you not only a location, but more information to help the police.
Police reports are important. If you’re supposed to get your child from your ex at a designated time per your divorce decree and your ex isn’t meeting you, your ex is in violation of a court order, and court orders are enforceable. By making a police report, this also reinforces that you’re actively trying to get access to your child, and bolsters the case that your lawyer will be making on your behalf.
But it’s also up to you to try to contact your ex via what means you have that are most current. If your texts are being blocked and your emails are going ignored, but you can document the contact you’ve initiated on your side, that can help your case. We often use telephone records and text messages to prove a case in court. This is oftentimes a lot better than “he said, she said” evidence.
I can happily say that I was recently able to bring the parents and children together who had been separated for several years, in a few cases, and those children were so grateful to have that parent back. (The parents, as you might imagine, were incredibly happy to be back with the children and we have been able to continue and protect that relationship to this day.)
If you’re looking for a similar outcome in your case — or if there are any other custody or divorce decree issues you feel are impacting your child — check in with me at the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance about your situation. I’d be happy to review your legal options with you and see how to best advocate on your behalf.