St. Mary's Law Journal


Sue T. Bentch


Texas should implement a court-sponsored custody mediation plan to prevent parental kidnapping. Each day, hundreds of parents kidnap their own children. These kidnapped children are often the innocent victims of an escalating custody battle between parents. The magnitude of the parental kidnapping problem has forced Congress and the legislatures of the various states to address its possible solution. Congress and state legislatures implemented the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980, state criminal laws, civil laws, and tort suits to address the problem. Unfortunately, these remedies only address the problem after the abduction has occurred. The best solution for parental kidnapping is a remedy which deters the occurrence of parental kidnapping in its entirely. California has found a prospective solution to the problem by enacting a mandatory custody mediation statute. California’s statute directs the parents to consider custody distinct from divorce, recognizing although the parents’ relationship may be irreconcilable, they may still cooperate in their child’s best interest. The benefits of such a system are numerous. First, successful mediation costs less than expensive litigation, especially when the parents thereby avoid the expenses of private investigations, criminal fines, and damage awards. Second, mediation avoids exacerbating the already unpleasant and emotionally charged relationship between the parents. It avoids the appearance of leaving one parent the winner and the other the loser. Instead, mediation can produce an outcome which satisfies each party. Third, successful mediation saves the child the scars and continuing emotional trauma of an adversarial relationship between his parents. Thus, Texas can decrease parental kidnapping by adopting a court-sponsored custody mediation plan similar to that of California.


St. Mary's University School of Law