Protecting your kids from international parental kidnapping

When a parent or other family member takes a child away from home without permission, it can be hard to know where to turn - especially if there is a possibility that the child has been taken out of state or into another country. Differences in laws, customs and jurisdictions, as well as potential language barriers, can make an already frightening and overwhelming situation even more difficult to navigate. If you fear that your child may be at risk of international parental kidnapping, it is important to take steps to protect your child before the situation escalates.

Preventing international parental child abduction

Talking with an attorney about your concerns is a good place to start if you think your child may be at risk of being abducted by his or her other parent. A family law attorney with experience in international child custody issues can help you evaluate the legal options that are available to protect your parental rights and keep your child safe.

One way that a family lawyer may be able to help you protecting your child from the risk of parental child abduction is by working with you to put a detailed child custody order in place, if you do not have one already. A child custody order is a formal statement of each parent's rights and responsibilities toward their child.

Sometimes, when parents separate, they make informal arrangements about how to share parenting and do not take the steps that are necessary to put their parenting plans on record with the court. While this may work out just fine when things are going well, it can make enforcement of your parental rights more difficult if something goes wrong. If parental abduction is a potential concern, your child custody order should be as detailed as possible with regard to your child's living arrangements, relocation restrictions and visitation schedules.

Other possibilities to help minimize the risk of parental abduction include seeking a restraining order, limiting the other parent to supervised visits with the child, requiring court approval before the child may be taken out of the state or country, and keeping the child's passport in the possession of a neutral third party. If your child's other parent is a citizen of another country, keep in mind that he or she may attempt to obtain a passport for the child from that country.

Be alert to warning signs and take swift action

Sometimes there are warning signs that a parental kidnapping is about to occur. If you notice sudden changes in the other parent's life, such as quitting a job, closing a bank account or selling off property, particularly without a clear reason for doing so, it could indicate that he or she is planning to leave the area and it is wise to stay on alert.

In Los Angeles, the border is just a short drive away and one of the world's biggest international airports is even closer. This means that every minute counts when a child is abducted by a parent who may be attempting to flee. If you think your child has been taken by his or her other parent, it is critical that you act fast and notify the authorities so that they can respond to the situation as quickly and effectively as possible.

If you have concerns about parental abduction or other international child custody issues, contact the Law Office of Peter A. Lauzon to discuss the specific circumstances of your situation.