We teach our children to fear strangers and to be cautious when travelling alone, but we have turned a blind eye to the enemy within. Most child abductions occur by a parent or other family member. That means that your child is much more likely to be taken by the other parent or a close family member than anyone else.
Custody battles are most often the motivation for parental child abduction: 65% of family abductions occur by a parent who recently experienced a change in custody or visitation. Parents usually kidnap their own children as the last effort to gain power. Parents abduct their own children in order to force the other parent to interact with them or to spite the other parent for “taking their children away from them”, or in fear of losing time with the child. If the parent anticipates loss of custody or of visitation rights, the parent might abduct the child.
Because parental abduction is a common danger faced by parents involved in custody battles, it is important to recognize the signs that your child might be at risk for parental abduction. The following behaviors and actions are commonly displayed by parents who are likely to abduct their children:
· Serious arguments with the other parent over visitation and custody matters;
· Threats to abduct the child;
· History of violence and rage;
· No job or significant ties to the area; or
· Expressions of anger and desperation at not getting enough time with the child.
If you notice or have noticed any of these warning signs, you should take steps to protect your child from parental abduction. Here are some strategies that lower the risk of parental child abduction:
· Respecting the other parent’s time and rights with the child;
· Fostering a positive relationship with the other parent;
· Initiate the custody process so that you can establish custodial periods;
· Reporting abduction threats to your lawyer, the local court, or local law enforcement; and
· Providing a copy of the custody order to your child’s school and daycare provider.
Almost half of the children abducted by parents are not considered missing or kidnapped by the other parent. If the parent of your child takes your child in violation of a court order without permission or authority, your child has been kidnapped. You should utilize the available resources to locate your child and make sure your child is safe. When your child is taken, you should immediately contact local law enforcement. This might include your county sheriff, your local police department, and the Pennsylvania State Police. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children can also help you to reunite with your lost child. They can be reached at 1-800-843-5678.
Parental abduction is a real and devastating risk, but you can take precautions to protect your child. If you do not have a custody agreement or your ex violates the agreement, call Ross & Ross at (814) 274-8612. Let our experienced attorneys fight for your rights and for the safety of your child.