26 answers

Help! My Ex Won't Give My Son Back!

I'm hoping some of you Mama's out there can give me some advice on what my options are. My son is spending the summer with his dad and his dad just informed me tonight that he won't be giving him back to me at the end of the summer. We currently have joint custody, but the orders designate me as being the parent to provide his primary physical residence. He's supposed to return him on Aug 27th as per the court orders. What can I do to make sure he does as he's supposed to?

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I would contact your lawyer immediately and have him call for an emergency custody hearing wherein he asks for all visitations with the father to be supervised.

1 mom found this helpful

You should contact your lawyer immediately to find out what you need to do and the steps you need to take.
You should make a note on your calendar of the time and date he called to tell you he wasn't giving your son back.
Some men are particularly mean and say things like that to make their ex-wives miserable and try to maintain some control over the situation. Could he be doing that?
Whatever you do - call the lawyer.
Good Luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

If court orders state he is supposed to be returned on August 27, I'd call court representative and tell them Dad has stated he has no intention of returning him and ask what you can and should do. Dad could be saying that just to provoke you, but, I'd take it seriously. I'd talk to my legal representative to tell him what is happening. Whatever you do, stay calm. Do not get into shouting match with ex. Do not drag your son into this discussion. And, find out legally how you must proceed.

1 mom found this helpful

hi D.,
that's got to be pretty dang scary. is it possible he's just trying to ruin your summer? he must know that legally he hasn't got a leg to stand on, so it may be that he just wants you to fret and be miserable.
to avoid both this and the worse possibility that he DOES mean it, i'm afraid you must contact your attorney immediately. it'll be worth the expense to find out exactly what your options are. it may be that just making the threat is enough to ensure your son's immediate return home. but the best thing to do is to find out right away where you stand legally.
good luck!

Contact your lawyer and have every thing ready in case he really does not return him as per your legal agreement.

I agree with Cheryl O. Just make sure you keep in contact with your son to "nonchalantly" make sure that he is alright and where he should be. As all the other mothers stated, just contact your lawyer and let him know what he is threatening and at least it's "in the works" if something does happen. Also, like a lot of other mothers said, he might just be trying to make you mad (and ruin your summer having to think about all this the entire time...wondering what will happen). Men can do that sometimes and it's totally cruel. Powertripping like many said. Just stay in contact with your child. I hope that helps you out a bit. I really didn't say anything that wasn't already said though. Good luck!

right now id call your lawyer and tell him what he has said or the police. you cant keep him from seeing your boy legally just as much as he cant keep you from seeing him. come aug. 27th if he wont let you come get him then have the police meet you where he is to get the boy sense legally he has to. what i'd be woried about id him fleeing with him. but call lawyer and police so that his words are on file in case something does happen in aug.

Um if this information was shared with you via email then you take it to the police department along w/ the court order stating main custody and visitation rights and they will retrieve your son for you. If you dont have proof that he threatened this, then I guess your word will have to do.
I wouldnt even warn your ex. This will show him that he better not mess around w/ you, your child or the courts visitation stipulation, let alone the law. It will also send him the message that its serious business and that you are not playing around. Just remind him that the judge said he must be returned by said date and that there are consequences for not returning him. He might want to refresh is memory as to what could happen if he violates his visitation.

This is an easy one! I made the mistake of giving almost 1/2 custody to my EX. I'm primary, as well. I WISH that he would pull something like that! Call your lawyer & give them a heads up. If you want to be nice, you can tell your EX that if your son is not home on the 27th, you'll be calling the police & telling them how he has kidnapped your son. Congratulations! This will look GREAT for you in court & you can fight for FULL custody. I wish my jerk EX would do something stupid like that. He's ruining our 8 yr old. He was never around before the divorce & now all of a sudden he thinks he's Father of the Year. He's so busy making sure our son loves him best, that our kid has done TERRIBLE in school for the last 2 yrs. Our son does bad in school & we (his Stepdad & I) try to disicpline him for 2 days & then he's off to Busch Gardens the next day w/his dad. Gee-wonder why the kid has zero respect for anyone or anything. Good Luck!

First i want to say IM TRULY SORRY! I know exactly what you are going thru only mine has happened over this last weekend. I tried from Friday 10a til Sat. 10a to get my son back and NOBODY would help me. They told me I have to wait til Monday. So thats what im doing Monday morning I will be sitting on the steps of the court house at 745a waiting for them to open at 8a to talk to the DA. They told me I couldnt do anything for 12hrs after I was suppose to have him back. But because it was a weekend I had to wait till Monday.In my experiance I dont believe they will do anything until it happens. Im sorry to be negative but thats all I got when I was trying to get my son back. But I would tell your lawyer and document EVERYTHING. Good Luck and Take Care. Oh my apologies didnt realize this was from last year. Did everything work out ok?

Yes, as others have said, get a lawyer involved today. This isn't something to try to work out on your own.

One additional thing: Write down the date and time of every phone call with your ex and make detailed notes about what he says; do the same with calls with your son while he's with the ex; and keep every e-mail your ex sends you. Make paper copies too, in case something happens to your computer files. This provides a trail of what has been said to you so it's not just a "he said, she said" situation, plus it shows the court you are paying close attention! My friend keeps and files every e-mail she exchanges with her unreliable, always-changing-his-mind ex, just in case he tries something like this.

D., you need to speak with an attorney ASAP. This is something that is best handled by someone who knows the law and has the ability to advocate for you. This threat may just be a way to upset you, so reacting to him directly may actually give him the attention he is looking for. And I suspect that you have to wait and see if he actually refuses to return your son or if this is an idle threat before you can take legal action. But please document his statement and talk to an attorney, who can give you the best advice on the appropriate course of action.

Call the police and explain the situation. My friend was in a similar situation and called the police. They contacted the father and told him he would be charged with kidnapping if he did not return the child at the designated time. Needless to say, the child was returned to her. If the police won't get involved until after he was supposed to return the child, contact the CPS or the DA right now to see what your options are.


Hello and good morning! I'm soooo sorry you are going through this!

My first response is to get a lawyer and keep your cool!

My second is basically entrapment, but when it comes to kids, you do what you got to do - record a phone call with him stating he refuses to give custody back to you.

Ensure you stay in contact with your son every day.
Ensure your son can talk with you freely - do NOT panic on the phone with him - keep it casual - what did you do today? Where did you go today? etc. ensure you know where he is - if daddy moved, they are at a hotel, etc.

Check in with your ex's job to make sure he's still employed there.
Who cares for your son while your ex is working? Do you have a relationship with them? If so - just stay in touch- do NOT lose your cool. He may be making a power play with you to get primary custody - see how she freaked out when I made a joke? (even if it was inappropriate). If you keep your cool, a judge will be more likely to grant you full custody and visitation for him - supervised visitation at that, especially since he has threatened to not give custody back - essentially kidnapping.

I will keep you in my prayers. I pray that your son is safe and will be home safely with you on August 27th.

God Bless.

If your son is not home by the specific time designated for him to be dropped off on the 27th of Aug. you have every right to call the police and let them know that where your son is that that you have a court order that your ex is defying.

First and foremost write everything down the date and time of the phone calls/emails, etc. and everything he says. Then I would call your lawyer with the information and ask for advice. REcord conversations as well.

Hang in there,

My first thought was talk to the police as that may be considered kidnapping (yes, a parent can be convicted of kidnapping their own child...)If you don't want to go that route, I would call the court house and see what your rights and options are. I hope this helps. Good luck. :)

Get a lawyer who will help you enforce the custody agreement already in place.

HAving no experience in this matter my first instinct would be to call the police and a lawyer to figure out what your options are. If he is taking your child against the order of the court, I would assume this is kidnapping. Now the next thing I would do, if ou have any kind of good relationship with your child's father is to find out why and what you could possibly be accused of since he wants to do this. See if there is any reasons that he has other than he just wants the child with him. Do you live close by, is there something that can be worked out before legal matters come in. It sounds like this is sudden for you, so I would want to know what your child has said or what has happened for your husband to make this kind of decision. Iwish you luck in this matter.

I just wanted to say that I wouldn't spook your ex. You don't want him to run. I did not read all of the responses. But I agree that you should give your lawyer and the authorities a head up. Having a copy of the arraingment is important too. Good Luck and God Bless. You will be in my prayers.

I don't know what state you live in but in Delaware, you can't do anything until he is in violation of the court order. In the mean time, try not to stress (I know it is hard, I have been there). If you have any proof of his threat to not return you child, keep it (recording, text message, email, etc.)...it shows deliberate intent. If you have a lawyer, notify him/her and ask their advice...it is what you have them for.

If 8/27 comes and he does not return him as scheduled, call him (in case he is just running late). If he does not show at the specified time, take your court order to the police. They should escort you to enforce the order...may actually pick up you child and deliver him to you to avoid a confrontation. By the way, never give up your last copy of the order...make copies if necessary. If you order is vague on the dates in question but you have a written agreement have copies of that too.

Best of luck to you.

As an attorney handling domestic relations matters, I agree with those who said to call your lawyer right away. While there is probably nothing that can be done until your ex actually violates the court order, your lawyer can have all the paperwork ready to go to have him held in contempt of court. This is so outrageous that I have to wonder if what some have suspected is correct - that he is just blowing smoke to try to ruin your summer. Surely he doesn't think he can get away with it (unless you have let him get away with things in the past).

If you don't currently have a lawyer, please contact my office at ###-###-####. While we are located in Northern Virginia, we do have one attorney who lives and practices closer to your area of the state.


You should contact you local courthouse. Many offer free legal assistance. Also, Many communities have a community mediation program. Maybe you and your ex can go and discuss the reasons why he does not want him to return. A Mediator is a neutral party that helps with the lines of communication. In Maryland many community colleges house the community mediation projects. Best of luck.

go to the courts and judge to day right now.

record every time you have interacion with your ex.

dont do anything that you will regrett. keep tracks of him and make sure he dosent leave the area.

if he dosent give him back inform the courts becaise if you are his legal care giver then you need to retain that and if he dosnet obey that order then he has KIDNAPPED HIS OWN SON,

what ever you decide to do go threw a layer first then inform your hubby. it sounds like you will forever have aprobelm.

act now or forever regrett it.

call the police and ask for assistance to pick him up. from your exes house and take your paper work with you. tell the police if he dosent give him back he is kidnapping your son. they will act then.

So your son is effectively kidnapped? Call the police, talk to your lawyer. Is your ex a possible flight risk (could he skip the country with your son)? You need to get this settled now before your son disappears and don't wait for the end of summer.

OH MY GOSH!!! We had the same thing happen to us! My step son went to visit his mother in MD and she asked if she could keep him an extra week. My husband said yes that would be fine (they had planned a family thing). The next week she called again and asked for another week. He told her No because we had plans with him. She started cussing at my husband on the phone then hung up. We called our attorney in MD (We live in VA) and she said there is nothing we could do until the child was back in our custody then we would file contempt charges against her. She is a flight risk that is why we assured ourselves he was back before filing charges. Yes, she admitted to the judge she was in contempt but just wanted more time with her son and that 2 weeks was not enough and she wanted at least a month. The judge informed her is she did not like it when papers were filed she should have not agreed in court to the arrangements. She was found in contempt.

CALL YOUR ATTORNEY ASAP!!! Find out what steps he/she wants you to take. It is not August yet so it will be just a he said/ she said thing at this point but at least the attorney will know and you can get a game plan in action just in case. Best of luck! I know what you are going through. We even had to call the police to escort us to assure she would not start something and turn over the child. I feel so bad for you right now. I know exactly how you feel. I will be praying for you! Let me know if I can help in anyway. Good Luck!

D., I have read many of the responses and after having dealt with this plus knowing someone else who has done this I can tell you for a fact that some of the suggestions will not hold up in court, should it come to that. You can not record a phone conversation without consent from the other person. (A friend did this and it was her only proof to his admitting to what he was doing and the judge threw it out because there was NO consent from the other party.) If it is a phone message, that is another story because they know that is being taped. However, if you have voice mail through your telephone provider you need a court order to retrieve it. Voice mail will only be saved for 30 days so you have to act fast on the court order. I was told by the police department that they can not go in and get a child who is supposedly not returned to the other parent. They need a court order stating the child has been kidnapped to go get the child for you. I can tell you to document everything. We had a notebook and I documented day and time of p/u and d/o on every visitation (she doesn't even try to see him any more - it has been almost 3 years since her last visit with him). I also documented every phone call day and time and length. I even tallied how many cuss words she said. Our attorney said this was great but actual proof is more effective so we got her to communicate with us via email. Wow do we have a collection of choice words. I never knew how many existed! Bottom line is you can not do anything without an attorney or court order telling the police what to do! Call your attorney! He is not late coming home yet so therefore is not in violation of anything. Like others have mentioned, he might be just trying to see how upset he can make you. Your attorney knows the state laws and what can be done or not done. Good Luck! I know first hand how you feel. I was there 5 years ago and dealt with this, off and on, for 2 years. It is very stressful and I do not wish this on anyone having been through this already. Again, Good Luck and if I can be of any help to you please let me know.

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