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How to Prevent International Parental Child Abduction

International parental child abduction occurs when a parent takes their child out of the country without properly notifying the other parent to gain full approval. It often follows a divorce or contested divorce that did not end on amicable terms. In order to try to “get back” at the other parent, a jaded parent may decide to violate child custody rules and abruptly flee the country, perhaps telling the child that they are going on a vacation. Other international parental child abduction situations might be unintentional and caused by a fundamental misunderstanding of parenting time expectations. In either situation, you should know how to prevent it, and how to react if you suspect it is happening.

To prevent international parental child abduction, you should:

  • Stay communicative: It is important for divorced parents to stay open with communication and honest in what they say. If you can maintain a consistent and predictable dialogue between yourself and your ex-spouse, you should be able to more easily detect unusual behaviors that could suggest he or she is thinking about leaving the country. Without communication, you are left in the dark.
  • Know your parenting schedule: Review the parenting schedule and child custody agreement finalized in your divorce to make certain you know each day and each time your child should be with you. You may also wish to encourage your ex-spouse to do the same in case you have reason to believe he or she does not know it well.
  • Spot the signs of packing: Trips that cross borders usually need preparation. Even a parent that knows he or she will be violating custody rules may take some time to get ready. If you still interact with your ex-spouse or are permitted to enter his or her home during custody trade-offs, look for new luggage or travel brochures in plain sight. Listen to your child for any mention of packing, passports, vacations, and so on.
  • Educate your child: If your child is old enough, you may want to give them a cellphone and instruct them to call you in case your ex-spouse starts to “act funny” or says that the two of them are going on a vacation without you. Your child should also know how to spot an authority figure, such as a police officer, security guard, or travel hub personnel, in case they believe they are being abducted. Just be sure to go over the usual warnings about approaching and spending time with strangers.
  • Call for help: If you have good reason to believe that your child is being abducted by your ex-spouse and that they are headed for a travel hub or international border, there is no time to lose. Call the authorities and explain your concerns, citing any of the warning signs you have spotted. You may also want to reach out to airports and train depots in the area with international flights or routes, asking them to keep an eye out for a passport with your child’s name.

At Moskowitz Law Group, LLC, our Hackensack divorce attorneys have helped parents with international parental child abduction cases to success. If your child is not in immediate danger but you suspect your ex-spouse might be planning something that violates your parenting schedule, you can call 201.419.6223 to connect with our team and learn what you can do next. With our guidance, you may be able to take legal action, such as modifying court orders, to keep your child with you, safe and sound.

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