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Get To Know Michigan’s Newest Child Abduction Prevention Law

UCAPA – Michigan’s Newest Child Abduction Prevention Law


On December 31, 2014, Governor Rick Snyder signed into law the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (“UCAPA”).  This particular law aims to reduce the risk of international child abduction, where a parent poses a particular risk of abducting and removing the child to another country.


The Purpose of UCAPA:

The UCAPA seeks to prevent the wrongful removal and retention of children to countries that are (1) not parties to the Hague convention on civil aspects of international child abduction (“Hague”) and does not provide for extradition of an abducting parent or for the return of an abducted child; or (2) a country that is a party to the Hague, but is either not in force, the country is not compliant or lacks legal mechanisms for immediately and effectively enforcing a return order.


The UCAPA will help judges, lawyers and parents to identify children at risk of abduction and provides authority for family courts to fashion suitable “abduction prevention orders” if the court finds that the evidence establishes a “credible risk of abduction” of a child.  While no statute can eliminate all risk of abduction, UCAPA will assist in reducing abductions by transforming an ad hoc process into a more methodical analysis by setting clear criteria of abduction risk factors and available interventions.


Among the criteria courts would consider in determining whether there is a credible risk of abduction are cases in which a parent has: (1) previously abducted or attempted to abduct a child; (2) threatened to abduct a child; (3) engaged in activities that may indicate a planned abduction (e.g., abandoning employment, selling a primary residence, applying for passports, enhanced driver’s license, etc.); (4) history of domestic violence, stalking, child abuse or neglect; etc.


Application of UCAPA to Real World Scenario:


Mike and Maria were divorced in Michigan in 2010 and had one child, a daughter, age 1 at the time of the divorce.  Mike is from the U.S., while Maria was born in Mexico and has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Mexico.  Nearly all of Mike’s family is in Michigan, whereas Maria’s family is mostly in Mexico.  Maria mentioned numerous times while the parties were married how much she dislikes living in Michigan and even threatened during the divorce that she would just take the child and move back to Mexico if she felt she wasn’t getting a fair settlement in the divorce.


Additionally, for reasons unknown to Mike, Maria recently lost or terminated her employment.  She was renting a home, but when the lease expired, she and the landlord agreed to continue month-to-month.  Mike recently noticed that the Friend of the Court had not distributed his last child support payment to Maria and was told by the Friend of the Court that it appeared that Maria’s checking account had been closed recently and no new account information had been provided.  The Friend of the Court staff has left 3 messages for Maria about this, but she has not responded.  Maria is in possession of the child’s passport, which was obtained in 2013 to allow Mike to take the child on a cruise with his family.


Mike is deeply concerned that Maria will carry out her prior threat to take the child to Mexico and files a motion with the family court to try to prevent such action.  Without the UCAPA in place, the family court may decline to issue an order concerning this matter, stating that, while suspicious in nature, there is no basis for the court to issue an anticipatory order.  However, under the UCAPA, the court would have a legal basis, guided by clearly established criteria, to issue an “abduction prevention order”.  This would serve to spare some parents and children the ordeal of attempting to order the return of children from a non-Hague member (or non-compliant Hague member) and/or extradition of the abducting parent.[1]


In short, UCAPA is simply another tool available to parents, lawyers and judges to help prevent international child abduction.


For more questions or information, please call us at (248) 290-0515 or visit us at


[1] See Detroit News Article describing father’s 2 year legal battle seeking return of his children after abduction:

10.0James W. Chryssikos