Divorce and child custody disputes can get ugly very fast. An action that desperate parents occasionally take is moving the children abroad. Unfortunately, if your child is taken abroad the power of the courts is severely curtailed. The State Department has put out some tips on how to identify and prevent abductions.
The best way to prevent the abduction of your child is through detailed custody orders. Specifically, your custody orders should specify:
- The duration of visits, down to the hour in which your child should be returned to you. Additionally, supervised visitation is another option. Furthermore, if you have restraining orders or proof that your life or your child's life may be in danger, you can request that visitation be done at a restricted location (usually with police).
- Details on relocation or move-away orders. These things should be prohibited unless you give your express consent.
- The court may even require that both parents obtain court approval before taking the child out of state or out of the country.
- The court may also dictate that both of you surrender your passports to a third-party.
Joint custody, while intended to help the parents share in raising the child, can also enable a parent to abduct a child. While the custody order is being negotiated, raise the topic of abduction. Depending on your particular situation, the court may take notice of this risk and account for it.
Additionally, pay attention to the other parent. Were there any sudden changes in their life, like quitting a job or leaving an apartment? These are usually signs that someone is planning something big.
Finally, if the unthinkable should happen and the other parent does take your child, then you need to act quickly. Contact the police and FBI and give them as much information as possible. The FBI has no jurisdiction outside the United States, but they can work with local law enforcement.
If you are in the midst of a divorce, then you may want to consult with a family law attorney. Child abduction, while not exactly common, occurs far more often than it should. Sound advice and legal representation can go a long way toward protecting your child and securing your parental rights.