Having your child kidnapped by a depraved stranger is too horrible to contemplate. But what happens when their abductor is a beloved family member — or their noncustodial parent?
Then, the waters get murkier. If you call the police and your child is taken from the family member at gunpoint, it's a traumatizing event that your child will relive over and over. They'll see their other parent, grandparent or aunt or uncle handcuffed and taken away to jail in a police car. They may even believe it's all their fault.
Yet, action still needs to be taken to get your child home to you. What can you do?
If you are sure that your child wasn't abducted by a predator, this buys you a little time. You can attempt to negotiate with your child's familial abductor without involving the law.
If you do decide to call the police, be aware that by doing so, you may involve a whole host of agencies in your and your child's life. Your child's school authorities and Children's Protective Services will frequently be contacted when a nonstranger abduction takes place.
Every step you take should be goal-directed — get the child returned to you with the minimum trauma possible. This might mean waiving your right to press charges. If that makes you apoplectic, consider that many familial abductors never consider their actions to be kidnappings.
Maybe the noncustodial parent wanted to extend the weekend outing a day or so longer, or Grandma decided to take all the grandkids to the beach house down in Florida, to heck with the custody order! It happens, and not infrequently.
Of course, people who do things like this are terrible about respecting others' boundaries. They may believe their actions are justified because they rarely get to see the kids or some other reason.
It's prudent to seek legal advice from your Tennessee family law attorney. They can advise you of your legal rights and provide you with good common-sense options to resolve the situation peaceably.
Of course, situations like these are fluid and dynamic and subject to change suddenly. If at any point you suspect your child's safety could be in danger, you should immediately notify the proper authorities.