my friend and her ex have a small child. When they split they did not go thru courts regarding custody or child support as they got along very well and hd no isssues at the time. This worked great until she told him she was thinking about getting custody and child support legalized thru the court. He then took off with the child 6 mos ago, she has only heard from him once, has called the cops, we live in small town and they told her they can't help, when she kept calling they threatened to arrest her for harassment. She hired p.i. who took her money. She has called all his relatives and anyone she can think of. Even though there was no "custody" arrangement" she had primary physical custody and he had visitation which he had no problem with until she mentioned child support. At this point she has no idea whether her child is alive or dead. To me it seems that since she can prove her child lived with her and her ex just had visition and the length of time that has passed without any contact there should be something she can do. Any advice would be appreciated.
1 Answer from Attorneys
I assume that your friend and her ex are not married and that your friend is an Iowa resident and her child was an Iowa resident until taken by the father.
If that is the case, then your friend would have sole custody of their child at least until a court establishes the father's parental rights. It is unfortunate that the police will not involve themselves, but that is typical.
Your friend needs to speak with the County Attorney and, if she is unable to get any help, she should speak with the state ombudsman regarding the situation.
Once the child is found, your friend should contact an experienced family law attorney to bring a Habeus Corpus proceeding.
There might be an issue with Iowa's jurisdiction if the child has been taken out of Iowa. However, under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement act, another state shouldn't be able to take jurisdiction from Iowa when the father took the child out of Iowa without your friend's permission.