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Handling Child Custody Disputes

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Quarterly Volume: 29 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring-Summer 2000 Pages: 35-37
Garry Haehnle
Date Published
3 pages
The District Attorney's office of San Diego County enforces child custody orders and has certain responsibilities under California laws, which require active efforts to reunify children with their custodial parents.
Officers should normally verify court orders before taking action and should be familiar with the law that gives law enforcement the authority to take children into custody under certain circumstances and that tells the officer what to do with the child taken into protective custody. The first step in responding to an alleged child abduction call is to determine whether the abduction is a parental or a stranger abduction. They should follow departmental guidelines for stranger abductions and for parental abductions should start by obtaining a complete statement from the reporting party regarding the facts, including any information on court orders or a lack of court orders. They should carefully document the circumstances and their rationale for any action they take. They should always make a report of the incident and send it back to the District Attorney’s Office Child Abduction Unit. Finally, they should refer the complaining party to this unit or to court to settle the issue of custody. Photograph


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