February 22, 2013
Source: Schneider & Stone
Parental kidnapping accounts for the vast majority of missing children cases in this country, and often there are both warning signs and some preventative tips parents may wish to take.
Of course, sometimes it happens without warning and by parents that others would not have thought capable of such a crime. Divorcing parents should be on the lookout for the following red flags for parental kidnapping:
- Threats of kidnapping (they must be taken seriously)
- Mixed religion, mixed cultural marriages
- Parent has ties, connections or family out-of-state or abroad
- Parent lacks ties in the current place of residency, is unemployed, self-employed, and/or does not own real estate
- Parents are in the midst of a contested custody battle (orders of protection may be issued)
- History of domestic abuse, violence or mental illness
Upon filing a divorce petition, Illinois institutes an automatic stay that prevents either parent from taking the child across state lines without prior approval. However, if you believe your spouse may take your child, there are a few steps to try to prevent such an action:
- Tell your attorney. He or she can give you advice and bring up the matter before the judge, who should take the allegations seriously.
- If you have court-ordered child custody and visitation, follow the order exactly. Most parental kidnappings occur out of a parent’s extreme frustration and desperation from not seeing a child.
- Keep the child’s passport if you can, or if the other parent has it, the court can demand it be held at one of the attorney’s offices while the divorce is pending to prevent the child from leaving the country.
- Keep a copy of a custody or visitation order with you in the event you need police assistance when exchanging the child in a volatile situation.
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