We have been very busy lately working with parents who are looking for children taken from them by other family members.
We have been support left-behind parents with referrals to services, pathfinding, and emotional support. Sometimes, the left-behind parent has had to leave the home state of the child, leave the left-behind siblings in the care of friends and relatives, and take temporary leave from the job that supports the family in order to come to Minnesota and fight this battle.
We urge all seperated, divorcing and single parents to establish clear custody determinations, have them on file with the court, and keep official copies in your possession. You may have an amicable agreement with the other parent, but the situation can change suddenly.
Cases where a child is taken by a family member are much more easily resolved if you have a legal custody agreement or order on file. It is less traumatic for the child to have things resolved quickly, and it is less of a burdon on the left-behind parent and siblings if the matter can be resolved quickly and in an orderly legal proceeding.
Under the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, a custody determination in one state must be recognized by the courts in another state. This is to prevent "custody shopping". This is why it is so important to get the custody of a child on record in the state where the child is a resident.
Even if there is no disagreement between the two parents, it is reassuring to the children to know that a plan is in place, and the parents have an agreement that they have promised to abide by.
It is just a good idea over-all to settle these matters legally before any probelms arise.