Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, October 11, 2021

In China, Abducting Children In A Bid To Gain Custody

From The New York Times:

In China, where courts rarely grant joint physical custody, disputes over children are especially acrimonious. Judges often keep children in their existing living environment, saying it’s best for their well-being. But it creates a perverse incentive for parents going through a split to abduct and hide their children to win sole custody.

For decades, Chinese law did not make it a crime for parents to kidnap and conceal their own children. The problem has become more widespread as the country’s divorce rate has steadily risen. 

In June, the government sought to address the problem by outlawing abductions for custody purposes. Activists welcomed the law but said it was too early to tell whether it would make a difference.

An estimated 80,000 children were abducted and hidden for custody purposes in 2019, according to a recent report by Zhang Jing, a prominent family lawyer in Beijing, citing figures released by China’s highest court.

Many say the figures are most likely higher. A longtime judge in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou told state news media in 2019 that more than half the contested divorce cases she saw involved the abduction of a child for custody purposes.

Read more here

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