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Preventing Parental Abduction/Kidnapping

Parental kidnapping or parental abduction is defined as the concealment, taking, or retention of a child by a parent in violation of the rights of the child’s other parent or a family member. Violated rights may include custody and visitation rights.

Being Prepared is Your Best Defense.

Many abductions occur just before or directly following a custody decision.

Your first line of defense is to obtain a custody order from the court and follow it.  Having the following restrictions placed in the Court Order will provide clear, legal boundaries.  You can request that the order include provisions or stipulations that the other parent cannot take the children out of the state, or Country. If you can demonstrate that the other parent is not trustworthy and a flight risk you may request that they only be allowed supervised visitation.

If the other parent lives in different state, or Country, be sure to send a certified copy of the Custody Order to be filed with the Clerk of Court in that venue.

If you are the custodial parent make sure that school authorities, daycare personnel, and anyone else who is in-charge of care or control of your child has a certified copy of the Custody Order. They can also be given explicit instructions not to release the child, or any records/information regarding the child, to the non-custodial parent.

Let it be known that any friend or relative who supports or assists a parent in hiding a child should be made aware that their actions can be seen as criminal if the actions aid in the abduction of the child.

What to Watch Out For

Although there are no foolproof warning signs or psychological profiles for abduction risk, there are some indicators that should never be ignored:

  • Parent has threatened to abduct the child on previous occasion
  • Parent has no strong ties to the child’s home state
  • Citizenship in another country – family ties to their country of origin
  • Friends and family living out of state or abroad
  • No financial reason to stay in current area; unemployed, able to take a job anywhere or financially independent
  • Recently sold a home, quit a job, closed bank accounts or liquidated assets
  • History of mental instability, domestic violence or child abuse
  • Prior criminal record

 

When factors are present which may indicate a heightened risk of kidnapping, you should contact your attorney to file any petitions with the Juvenile Courts they deem appropriate. Also, consider contacting Morse Investigative Services to physically monitor the potential abductors behavior.

Morse Investigation Services was actively involved in a related case where the Father was a French National and had Dual Citizenship. The Mother had picked up on signs that made her uncomfortable. Morse Investigations was able to assist her in devising a course of action to monitor the Father. With the aid of Dulles International Airport Authorities the Father was stopped from boarding a plane with his children destined for France.

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