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Tortious Interference With Custody - An Action To Supplement Iowa Statutory Deterrents to Child Snatching

NCJ Number
Iowa Law Review Volume: 68 Issue: 3 Dated: (March 1983) Pages: 495-515
M L Taylor
Date Published
21 pages
A tort action that allows damages for child snatchings occurring before a formal adjudication of custody is an important supplement to statutes that apply to child snatching in Iowa. These current statutes apply only after a custody decree has been awarded.
Child snatching typically involves children of divorce, who are greatly in need of stability and continuity to counteract the impact of conflict and change to maintain their health and proper growth. A network of laws applicable in Iowa aim at deterring and providing remedies for child snatching. They include the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA), which aims at deterring snatching by limiting jurisdiction of custody proceedings to a single State; the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, which closes the loopholes of the UCCJA by abolishing concurrent jurisdiction for child custody cases and by mandating that child custody awards granted pursuant to the provisions of the statute in one State be accorded full faith and credit in all other States; and the Iowa Kidnapping Statute, which makes the violation of a custodial order through child snatching a felony. This network of laws has a number of deficiencies, the primary one being a lack of remedy for snatchings that occur prior to the awarding of the custody decree. A tort action for interference with child custody would permit damages for child snatchings that occur before a formal adjudication of custody. Once a victimized parent has been awarded damages, that parent is placed in an advantageous position from which to negotiate the return of a snatched child. Further, the tort action permits the collection of damages from any coconspirators involved in the snatching. The Iowa Supreme Court is encouraged to recognize such tort action. A total of 149 footnotes are provided.