Parental Abduction At the Holidays


By: Samantha Wilson

We’re well into the holiday season, and I know that for some divorced parents, Christmas break brings fears of parental abduction. From time to time we hear the alarming news about a stranger abduction, but the reality is that they are very rare – most child abductions are by non-custodial parents.

Although non-custodial parental abduction can occur at any time throughout the year, reports of these incidents increase around the holiday season, where family stress can escalate.

If you’re the custodial parent, and have reason to believe there’s a risk of parental abduction:

  • Legally and formally establish all child custody and visitation.
  • Ask that the courts allow supervised access only. Your children will still be allowed to visit the other parent, but only in supervised situations.
  • Don’t allow a non-custodial parent to have access to any of the child’s travel documents such as a passport, birth certificate or visa.
  • Include a provision in the custody order that prohibits any school authority, babysitter or daycare centre from releasing your child to the non-custodial parent without your consent.
  • Use preventative measures such as the Passport Control List (Passport Canada/RCMP), which will prevent a child under the age of 16 from leaving the country.

One of the most difficult parts of divorce is being separated from your children, especially during the holidays. Try to keep the lines of communication open between you and your ex and your children, and remember, you are not alone. Look for support groups in your commuity that will assist you and your family with safety planning throughout the year.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

How to Proceed If Your Child Is Abducted


This is something none of us wants to think about, but, it could happen. About 2,000 children are abducted daily in the US. It is horrific and something no one ever wants to have happen to them. If it does you need to be prepared and move fast to do all you can to get your child back quickly and safely.


Instructions:
  1. Step 1

    Don’t panic. You are of no help to the situation if you are a basket case. If ever there was a time to keep your wits about you this is it. Don’t expect the worst but remember the fourteen- to forty-eight-hour life expectancy of the criminally abducted. Atleast drink fluids so you don’t dehydrate and get sick.

  2. Step 2

    Search the house thoroughly. Be sure that every possible place is searched and all surrounding areas on your property. Don’t jump to call authorities until you are sure there is a reason to.
    Think back over those hide and seek places and the quiet spots they go to read or hangout alone.

  3. Step 3

    You should be aware of who your child’s friends are, what their phone numbers are and where they live. What is your child’s routine? What school activities is he a part of? Question friends as to where your child might have last been seen. And ask if there are new places you are not aware of where your child hangs out. Question the people at this places for possible sightings and any people seen there that seemed unusual.

  4. Step 4


    We all want our children to lead happy lives with nothing to upset that.

    It is a good idea to consider what category your child falls under: runaway, throwaway, parental abduction, or criminal abduction. Did your child runaway? Was he/she ordered to leave the house? Did a parent abduct the child? Or, could the child have been criminally abducted?

  5. Step 5

    Has there been any ongoing or newly established situations or changes such as violence, depression, found drug paraphernalia,
    mood changes, possible abuse, grade changes, child’s clothing or favorite belongings missing?

  6. Step 6

    Your next move is to call the police. Be sure you can supply a recent picture, what he was wearing, a physical description, any identifying marks such as birth marks and scars, and if you know where your child was last seen or his last known destination.

  7. Step 7
    Has your child been unhappy lately?

    Mobilize friends and family and have them network. Time is important. Go door to door in the neighborhood and see if anyone saw anything you are not aware of. Be sure someone is near the main phone at all times. Incoming calls should be kept very brief. Call the telephone company for call forwarding or call waiting services if needed.

  8. Step 8

    Have someone call the local radio stations and alert the television stations as well. The local newspaper’s city desk editor can be of help also. Be sure to do these things only when you know
    that your child is in danger. The financial obligations could be overwhelming otherwise.

  9. Contact ABP World Group child recovery services

Christmas/New Year period is the “ideal” time to abduct a child


According to an article published by the Daily Telegraph one single father’s group has actually advised their members that due to court closures over the Christmas/New Year period, now would be the ideal time to abduct a child from a custodial parent.
The holiday season sees a sharp rise in the number of parental abductions in Australia.  With emotions running high between separated and divorced parents during the Christmas/New Year period, a small number of parents will take the drastic step of abducting their own children.  Most of these children are eventually recovered, but a small number of parents will experience the agony of never seeing their children again.

According to an article published today by the Daily Telegraph one single father’s group has actually advised their members that due to court closures over the Christmas/New Year period, now would be the ideal time to abduct a child from a custodial parent.  Although the article did not name the group, there are several men’s groups in Australia who have deliberately flouted Family Court rulings in the past.  However, it must be acknowledged that almost half of all parental abductions are perpetrated by women.

ABP World Group Ltd. advises parents to be alert to the threat of parental child abduction over the holiday period.  Statisically, half of all threatened parental child abductions are acted upon, with children aged between 2 and 11 making up the bulk of those affected.  ABP World Group Ltd. assists those whose children have been abducted by the other parent.  You can contact us via our website.

This is an issue close to my heart.  I personally experienced the agony of parental child abduction back in November 1992.  My youngest son was taken by force from my arms when he was just 13 months old.  My then estranged husband (now ex-husband) and his parents were British citizens and I knew they wanted to return to England.  So my greatest fear was that they would take my young son overseas.  Because his father and I had recently separated and there weren’t any custody orders in place at the time, I was told by both the Local Court and the Police that there was nothing they could do.  Thankfully, his father did return about a week later, but for that period of time I didn’t know whether I would ever see my child again.

I cannot adequately describe in words just how it feels to be the parent left behind when your child is abducted.  What I can tell you is that the incident did leave a permanent emotional scar on both myself and my older child who was only 4½ at the time.  I thank God my youngest child was too young to remember the incident.

Statistics of Parental Child Abduction

  • Every year 650+ children are abducted by a parent or other family member in Australia.
  • 15% of abductions involve the use of physical force or violence.
  • 75-85% involve interstate transportation of the child.
  • 50% involve failure of a parent to return a child/children after an authorised visit or stay.
  • 25% occur before the relationship between the parents ends.
  • 50% occur more than 2 years after the relationship between the parents has ended.
  • Most (but not all) abductors have a history of violent behaviour, substance abuse, or emotional disturbance.  46% abductors have a criminal record.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Child Abduction Prevention -U.S


Guarding Against International Parental Child Abduction

Source: U.S Department of State

Parental child abduction is a federal crime.  It is also a tragedy that jeopardizes children and has substantial long-term consequences for the “left-behind” parent, the child, the family, and society. Children who are abducted by their parents are often suddenly isolated from their extended families, friends, and classmates. They are at risk of serious emotional and psychological problems. Similarly, left-behind parents experience a wide range of emotions including betrayal, loss, anger, and depression. In international cases, they often face unfamiliar legal, cultural, and linguistic barriers that compound these emotions.

In this section of our Web site, learn about the measures you can take to prevent your child from being wrongfully taken to or wrongfully kept in another country.  In addition to the materials below, also see these important links:

International Parental Child Abduction Is Illegal

Under the laws of the United States and many foreign countries, international parental child abduction is crime.  Removing a child from the United States against another parent’s wishes can be considered a crime in every U.S. state.  In some cases an abducting parent may be charged with a Federal crime under the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA).  This can be the case even when neither parent holds a custody decree prior to the abduction. Nevertheless, a custody decree can be helpful to prevent an international parental child abduction, or to recover your child if he/she is abducted.

The Importance of a Custody Decree

A well-written custody decree is an important line of defense against international parental child abduction. In your custody decree, it may be advisable to include a statement that prohibits your child from traveling abroad without your permission or that of the court. Ask your attorney if you should obtain a decree of sole custody or a decree that prohibits the travel of your child without your permission or that of the court.  If you have or would prefer to have a joint custody decree, you may want to make certain that it prohibits your child from traveling abroad without your permission or that of the court.

If your child is at risk of being taken to a country that partners with the United States under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), your custody decree should include the terms of the Hague Abduction Convention that apply if there is an abduction or wrongful retention (see country list).

The American Bar Association also suggests requesting the court, if the other parent is not a U.S. citizen or has significant ties to a foreign country, to require that parent to post a bond. This may be useful both as a deterrent to abduction and, if forfeited because of an abduction, as a source of revenue for you in your efforts to locate and recover your child.

REMINDER: Obtain several certified copies of your custody decree from the court that issued it. Give a copy to your child’s school and advise school personnel to whom your child may be released.

Two Parent Signature Law for a Passport

The United States does not have exit controls on its borders for holders of a valid passport.  This makes preventing a passport from being issued to your child without your consent very important.  Generally, if your child has a passport, it can be difficult to prevent the other parent from removing the child to another country without your permission.

U.S. law requires the signature of both parents, or the child’s legal guardians, prior to issuance of a U.S. passport to children under the age of 16.  To obtain a U.S. passport for a child under the age of 16, both parents (or the child’s legal guardians) must execute the child’s passport application and provide documentary evidence demonstrating that they are the parents or guardians.  If this cannot be done, the person executing the passport application must provide documentary evidence that he or she has sole custody of the child, has the consent of the other parent to the issuance of the passport, or is acting in place of the parents and has the consent of both parents (or of a parent/legal guardian with sole custody over the child to the issuance of the passport).

EXCEPTIONS: The law does provide two exceptions to this requirement: (1) for exigent circumstances, such as those involving the health or welfare of he child, or (2) when the Secretary of State determines that issuance of a passport is warranted by special family circumstances.

Read more: Passport Requirements for Minors

Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program

You may also ask that your child’s name be entered into the State Department’s Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP).  Entering your child into the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program will enable the Department to notify you or your attorney if an application for a U.S. passport for the child is received anywhere in the United States or at any U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. If you have a court order that either grants you sole custody, joint legal custody, or prohibits your child from traveling without your permission or the permission of the court, the Department may refuse to issue a new or renewal U.S. passport for your child. The Department may not, however, revoke a passport that has already been issued to the child. There is also no way to track the use of a passport once it has been issued, since there are no exit controls for people leaving the U.S. If your child already has a passport, you should take steps to ensure that it is kept from a potential abductor by asking the court or attorneys to hold it.

IMPORTANT TO KEEP IN MIND:

  1. The United States does not have exit controls.
  2. The Department of State may not revoke a passport that has been issued to a child, but you can ask a court to hold onto it.
  3. There is no way to track the use of a passport once it has been issued.
  4. Your child might also be a citizen of another country (dual nationality).  Even if he/she does not have a U.S. passport, your child may be able to travel on the other country’s passport.

The Privacy Act and Passports

Passport information is protected by the provisions of the Privacy Act (PL 93-579) passed by Congress in 1974. Information regarding a minor’s passport is available to either parent. Information regarding adults may be available to law enforcement officials or pursuant to a court order issued by the court of competent jurisdiction in accordance with (22 CFR 51.27). For further information regarding the issuance or denial of United States passports to minors involved in custody disputes, please contact Passport Services.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Parental Child Abduction: Top Ten Tips for Expats


By Jeremy D. Morley

Before you move overseas, realize that if you have children in a new country you may find yourself trapped there. An example: Angie the American and Gus the Greek (from Cyprus) moved to Cyprus with their baby. Life in Cyprus didn’t work out for Angie. In fact, she hates it there. But Gus refuses to leave and he refuses to allow Angie to take the baby back to the States to live. Since both Cyprus and the U.S. are parties to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Angie will be in big trouble if she takes the child back to the States without Gus’ permission. Angie wishes she had consulted an international family lawyer before she moved overseas. Now she’s stuck there.


If you make a deal with your husband or wife that you’re going overseas just for a trial and that you’ll return if it doesn’t work out – Get it in writing. Verbal agreements always seem to be forgotten when things blow up. But also know that even a written agreement may not work. A foreign court handling your child custody case may well that it doesn’t care what your deal with was with the other parent; it must only consider what’s best for the kids.

Before you switch residences, consider how it might impact a possible divorce. An example: Arnie and Alice in America signed a prenuptial agreement before they married. Not only that, but Arnie made pretty sure that it was watertight not only by having it drafted by his own lawyer but also by insisting that Alice have her own independent lawyer, and by putting term sin the agreement that are pretty fair to Alice. Arnie feels secure. Then they move to London, England oblivious of the fact that their prenup may well be unenforceable in a divorce court in England. English courts still hold that prenuptial agreements are against public policy and, while this policy is supposed to be changing, it most certainly hasn’t changed yet. To make matters much worse for Arnie (who had bags of money before the marriage and thought he was fully protected by the prenup), there is no distinction in England between marital property and separate property acquired before the marriage. He could be blowing half of his pre-marriage assets just by moving the family to England.

Before leaving home, you should hope and plan for the very best. But you also need to be prepared for the very worst. So if you are a “trailing spouse,” consider the following:

Don’t sell the house. If you maintain an address in the States it will be easier to claim that you maintained your home as your permanent residence. Certainly it will indicate that it continues to be your “domicile” (the place you live in indefinitely which remains as your domicile even if you move temporarily to another place remains your home. Having a place to return to will also make your case a lot stronger if you need to prove that your kids should be allowed to move “back home.”

Keep your contacts with your job. Prepare for the day when you may want to re-enter the job market back home. Perhaps you can even continue to do some work even while overseas.

Keep your network of friends and family at home.

If you’re overseas and are “planning” to get divorced, be as strategic as possible. Plan your moves. Consult someone who really understands the big picture. Figure out where it’s best for you to be at the time you tell your soon-to-be-ex that it’s all over. You may need to move yourself, the kids, the soon-to-be-ex and the marital assets to another place before you break the news that you want out of the marriage. And don’t leave without the evidence. It’s very frustrating when a client tells me a story of the other spouse’s gruesome physical abuse and shameless hiding of marital assets and when I ask for the evidence I’m told that it was all left behind in the foreign country before the client came back home. Intelligent planning, with strategic professional advice, is the key.

If you’re feeling stuck overseas and have children with you, don’t just bolt for the (airplane) door with the kids and run ‘back home’ to the States. Plan things out first. If you take the kids you may be guilty of international child kidnapping. You could even be arrested at the airport before you leave. If you make it to the States, you’ll probably be forced to return by an American court – and then, to completely add insult to injury, you’ll probably have to pay your spouses’s legal fees and travel expenses as well as your own. When you return your case will be heard in the foreign court, where you will be branded as an international child abductor. Consult knowledgeable international family law counsel sooner, rather than later.

On the other hand, if it’s your spouse who’s feeling unhappy and upset and who may “do a runner” back home, there are lots of things that you should be doing. Some are pretty obvious: Be kind; be understanding; and don’t stay out all night with the guys or gals from the office. Other tips are not so clear, and whether you implement them depends very much on the circumstances. Hide the passports. Befriend her travel agent, who may tell you if she’s making an airline reservation. Consult her friends. Suggest counseling. Have a plan to call the police and alert the border guards if you discover that she has taken the kids.

If you’re overseas and pregnant, and not 1000% confident that you’ll always want to live in the overseas country, consider very seriously getting out of there now. If your baby is born overseas, whether in Sweden or Saudi Arabia, the child’s “habitual residence” for purposes of the Hague Convention will be Sweden or Saudi Arabia – and that can create terrible problems if you want to take your baby “back home.”

 

Don’t assume that the local authorities won’t help. So many times, expats feel that the local social welfare agencies won’t understand and that they will automatically side with the other spouse who is a citizen. In fact, in many countries the support services are excellent and you should try them. Plus, an American court in a Hague Convention case won’t accept your defense that returning a child to the foreign country will put the child in grave risk of harm unless you can show that the foreign support services are unable to provide the needed protection.

Local divorce lawyers may not be your best bet. They want your business. They have an incentive to encourage you to bring your lawsuit in the place where they practice and they usually don’t know anything about the laws in other places. An international divorce lawyer, who consults with local lawyers as appropriate, can give you much more objective “big-picture” advice.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

OVERSEAS ABDUCTIONS, A GROWING CONCERN


Custody battles include disputes over foreign travel

By JEREMY D. MORLEY

How can one parent stop the other parent from taking a child to visit a dangerous country? It’s a question of increasing concern in many custody matters.

The following tips have been developed as a result of handling these issues on a regular basis in collaboration with local family lawyers across the country.

Collect hard evidence of the dangers that the proposed visitation presents. Any parent who opposes overseas visitation, especially to a parent’s country of origin or current domicile, has a heavy burden of proof.

Do not underestimate what you need to do to prove your case. You must go to court with very strong evidence already lined up. You have to be fully prepared to show that there is a very real risk— not simply a suspicion or a fear—that your child will not be returned.

Collect evidence to show the court that there is a real likelihood that the other parent will not return the child. So-called “red flags” include the other parent having: previously abducted or threatened to abduct the child; citizenship in the othercountry and strong emotional or cultural ties to it; no strong ties to the child’s home state; and a history of instability.


Demonstrate respect for the rights of the other parent. While the language of state laws varies—some referring only to the best interests of the child with others including a presumption of joint parenting — American courts invariably encourage and impose shared parenting in one form or another. A parent who inappropriately hinders or obstructs the other parent’s involvement in the child’s life will not be viewed favorably.

Do not rely on a country’s poor reputation for corruption or danger. Do not take it for granted that a court will know that a particular country has an ineffective legal system or that the country is a dangerous place for Westerners. You must present evidence to the court—whether through witnesses or through documents—that will allow the court to make a reasoned conclusion based on real and convincing evidence that the requested visitation should be denied.

Be calm, not hysterical. You may be panic-stricken at the thought of your precious one being taken to another country, but you should not come across as over-the-top. You should be prepared to explain calmly to the court the reasons for your grave concern.

Do not take comfort in the mere fact that the child is being taken to a country that is a party to the Hague Convention. The Convention is a strong international treaty, but countries vary dramatically in their enforcement of it. Countries such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand typically return children promptly and efficiently, but some act much more slowly (Germany and France, for example) and others act at a glacial pace or not at all (e.g., Mexico, Colombia and Austria).

Do not leave it to the last minute to seek legal protection. While the courts can usually make emergency orders, it is far better to prepare and submit a case well in advance of the scheduled departure date. In addition, a judge will be less likely to prevent a trip overseas that has been scheduled for a long time.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Parental Child Abduction – Ukraine


On September 1, 2007, the 1980 Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction entered into force between the United States and Ukraine.  The Convention will not apply to parental child abduction cases between the U.S. and Ukraine that took place prior to September 1, 2007.  Wrongful retentions or removals that occurred after September 1 may qualify to be Hague Abduction Convention cases.

The Convention cannot be applied retroactively.  Ukraine’s accession to the treaty is an important step that will improve the possibility of resolving future abduction cases.

In general, the Convention has two main provisions:  to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any signatory country; and to ensure that the rights of parents for custody and access to their children under the law of one signatory country are respected in other signatory countries.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Germany: Child Abduction, Hague Convention Overview


It`s stilll problematic to solve international child abduction cases in Germany

  • Germany ratified the Hague Convention in 1990 and it entered into effect for Germany later that year.
  • Germany has received extensive international criticism, alleging that German courts were violating their treaty obligations by failing to return children who had been abducted to Germany by German nationals. As a result, Germany enacted procedural reforms in 1999. It is unclear whether these reforms have solved the problem.
  • Read more here: www.international-divorce.com

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Colombia – Child Abduction


By:Jeremy D. Morley

COLOMBIA

As in last year’s report, the United States continues to view Colombia as noncompliant in its implementation of the Hague Convention.  Previously mentioned systemic problems, particularly with respect to judicial processing, have persisted.  Court jurisdiction over Hague cases remains unclear in practice, despite a Constitutional Court ruling in 2002 that addressed jurisdiction.  This lack of clarity creates lengthy delays in case processing; in some instances, cases have remained pending for years.  A key component in the effective application of the Convention is courts’ willingness and ability to hear and issue a decision on Convention applications expeditiously.  Delays are also caused when judges routinely order home studies or psychological evaluations.  These inquiries, unless part of a carefully circumscribed inquiry in response to a taking parent’s assertion of an exception to return under the Convention’s Article 13(b), are inappropriate in the context of a Hague proceeding since they tend to go to the merits of custody, and are properly left to the courts of the country of habitual residence.  It does not appear that Colombian judges are receiving specialized training in the Hague Convention.  A review of the Office of Children’s Issues’ records shows that very few abducted children return to the United States from Colombia despite the considerable volume of cases.

Colombian officials have begun to demonstrate a greater openness to discussing outstanding Hague-related problems with the Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues and with U.S. Embassy officials.  In March 2004, U.S. Ambassador Wood discussed abduction issues with Colombia’s President Uribe.  U.S. Embassy officials were actively involved in assisting Central Authority officials and legislators during the drafting of implementing legislation, which would clarify jurisdictional problems by directing Hague cases to the Family Court.  The legislation was passed by the Colombian House of Representatives on December 14, 2004, and must now be passed by the Senate.  U.S. Embassy officers have encouraged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take a more active role in managing interagency procedures in order to facilitate Hague case processing.  Assistant Secretary Harty has twice during the past year relayed our concerns to the Colombian Ambassador here in Washington.


The Colombian Central Authority has become more responsive over the past year to requests for information and in providing assistance in welfare visits, and case processing is becoming more efficient.  However, the procedural issues within the court system discussed above continue to seriously impede case resolution.  We hope that engagement and dialogue between the United States and Colombia continues.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Australia – Child Abduction


By: Jeremy D. Morley

International Social Service published a report in February 2005 on international parental child abduction in Australia and called for the establishment of a national support service.

Background

There are approximately 170 reported cases of child abduction both into and out of Australia per year. This critical issue is however, not widely known or publicized throughout the general community. The ISS network comes into contact with an increasing number of cases, due predominantly to more family breakdown and the ease of international travel. The Federal Attorney-General’s Department has recently provided seed funding to enable ISS to undertake a short term research project into International Child Abduction with a central aim of identifying appropriate support models.


The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, of which Australia is a signatory, has as two central aims. Firstly, the restoration of the pre-abduction status quo, and secondly, to deter parents from crossing borders in search of a more sympathetic court. While these aims have significant merit, there is a perception that the Convention, operating within its legal framework, does not always focus on the welfare of the child as the paramount consideration. A key aim of the project is to identify mechanisms, apart from legal ones, which will provide the most effective support and alleviate the trauma, anxiety and powerlessness experienced by the parties.

Currently, families affected by child abduction are directed to the International Family Law Section of the Federal Attorney-General’s Department. The focus of assistance therefore tends to be on the legal and practical aspects of recovering and returning children. Unlike some other countries, Australia does not have a specialized service which is able to provide holistic support to the parties. A key component of the ISS Project is to develop a support service model which would meet the needs of, in the first instance, the left behind parent, but also the child/children and other parent. There are instances where the child has been abducted to Australia and there is a need to support the foreign left-behind parent when visiting Australia for court proceedings, to attempt resolution and to have contact with the child.

The common thread in all these cases is the sense of powerlessness experienced by the left behind parent whose right to access to the child/children often becomes impossible. In these instances, the temptation to resort to drastic steps may become overwhelming.

The overriding concern in any of these cases is to protect the child from harm. Children who have been abducted are often physically and almost always, psychologically harmed by the experience. The children are firstly dealing with the trauma of the breakdown of their parent’s relationship. They are then removed from all or much that is familiar to them. However resilient the child, the experience is confusing, frightening and in the long term, damaging.

ISS Australia is aware from experience that it can be extremely difficult attempting to negotiate the return of a child from a country with law and order issues and political unrest. Even where the courts in these countries vote in favor of the left behind parent, the local authorities do not always cooperate for fear of reprisal.

For further information about child abduction in Australia, including the Convention, state/territory legislation, general information and useful links can be found at the Attorney-General’s website, child abduction section – http://www.ag.gov.au/agd/www/childabduction.nsf .

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com