Source: child custody
This is the third time this month that your ex-spouse shows up late to return your child after visitation.
-Maybe it is the second time he or she asks your permission for the child to spend the night over, three hours after the child was supposed to be returned. While some of these behaviors are typical of a normal parent child relationship, they could also be signs of an imminent child abduction attempt by your ex-spouse.
The study “Issues in Resolving Cases of International Child Abduction by Parents” conducted by the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in 1998, revealed many interesting findings regarding the wrongful practice of parents kidnapping their children after losing a custody fight. Parental kidnapping – also known as parental or child abduction- is the act of removing and retaining a child in violation of a custody and visitation order.
The child can be removed from his or her habitual residence to another state or even another country. In any case, it is a serious issue. Child abductions are penalized by civil and criminal laws. In the civil context, the abductor’s parental rights will almost certainly be terminated. He or she might also face criminal charges leading to incarceration.
Nearly one half of the reported abductions in this study revealed that the kidnapping occurred during a court-ordered visitation in which the child was never returned.
Parental kidnapping is not very often the case of a sudden or spur of the moment decision. A long and methodic planning usually precedes every kidnapping. You might be able to tell that your ex-spouse is planning something devious if you see some of these signs:
Visitations are regularly prolonged by the non-custodial parent.
The non-custodial parent fails to follow up with the visitation order.
The non-custodial parent starts to show a deep and constant need to be closer to the child.
The relationship with the child becomes the center of the non-custodial parent’s life.
The non-custodial parent starts putting money away for his or her plan.
The non-custodial parent shows up at school and doctors’ offices to request copies of your child’s records.
The non-custodial parent starts studying a foreign language, or travels to another state or country, in which he or she had family or used to live years ago.
You start to notice that your child is withdrawing from you.
The study conducted by the OJJDP showed that younger children were the preferred victims of abductor parents, perhaps because they can offer less resistance. Another interesting finding of this study was that in the cases in which the child was recovered, the period of separation lasted less than one year. Thus, the sooner you report the abduction to local enforcement agencies, the more likely your child will return home promptly. After more than 5 years, recovery is highly improbable and not favored by the courts.
You can prevent your child’s abduction. You must be tough with your ex-spouse when he or she shows up regularly late to return your child. One thing you must do is to warn him or her that the violations of the visitation plan will not be tolerated, and that next time you are going to notify the courts. If you won your child’s custody over a high conflict divorce proceeding, you should always keep records of your ex-spouse’s employment, driver’s license, auto tag number, address and some of his or her friends‘ names and phone numbers, if possible. This will help authorities as they attempt to search and locate your child.
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