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Global Guide to Divorce

Jack Jack the Cat

internationa; child abduction

International Child Abduction

Abduction is taking a child out of the country without the other parent’s permission. This can be due to being uninformed about the law or as an intentional act with possibly going into hiding. It can be part of a war between two parents without the child’s best interest at heart. Depending upon one’s divorce decree, it may be that one parent only has to inform the other regarding a planned journey abroad. This is more in the case where one parent has physical custody and the other has limited contact, such as with abuse. In the UK it may be possible to take a child out of the country for under one month without permission, when the youngster primarily lives with one parent. Check with your lawyer first.

It is much easier and less traumatic to take measures in order to prevent kidnapping rather than deal with it after the fact. Look at odd behaviors of the other parent which may indicate that there is a flight risk. Have they quit their job, sold their house and seem to be cutting ties with the community? Certainly if the kids mention that the co-parent wants to move – take notice without pumping them for information.

There are precautions to take. Obtain legal counsel to ensure you are doing everything possible to prevent an abduction. Who holds the kids’ passports, you or the co-parent? If you have them in your possession, do not hand them over to the other parent without legal advice. My ex requested my sons’ passports for a trip to Mexico. The teens refused to leave the country with him, so I kept the passports. When kids are older, they may have more say in declining a jaunt abroad. If the youngsters are dual citizens, check with the other country’s embassy to see what the requirements are for obtaining a passport for a minor. The other parent may abduct the kids by getting another passport for them in the country of his or hers birth. If you both moved abroad for work and are still married, consider hanging on to the kids’ passports. This lessens the chance that your spouse may depart with the little ones if your marriage is ending.

If your ex-spouse seems like they may do a runner with the kids, attempt to get supervised visitation. One parent gave his boy a track phone with a few numbers programmed into it. This way, if in a dicey situation, the lad could make an emergency call from inside the bathroom. A surveillance company may be able to insert a GPS tracking device into the child’s clothing or possession. One may want to have risk factors assessed by an international attorney to ascertain the possibility of a parental kidnapping.

The US has a Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) to notify a parent when the other one is applying to get a passport for their child. A child cannot be prevented from leaving the US unless there is a court order which prohibits this. Speak to an attorney about getting this court order in place which is essential in an emergency. Remember to tell the CPIAP if your contact information changes.

The US Department of State has an easy to use web site with a wealth of information relating to preventing child abduction, including which countries participate in The Hague Abduction Convention. The Hague Abduction Convention’s purpose is to encourage that a child is returned to their country quickly.  Please read more