Parental Abduction – Lesson 1


By: Jake Morphonios

Imagine…

You wait for your former spouse to return your son following a schedule weekend visit. When your child isn’t returned, you go to the other parent’s home only to discover that the apartment has been vacated.

The physiological response in each of these situations is the same. Your heart begins to pound and your adrenaline starts to surge through your veins as the realization dawns that your children are gone. In an instant your brain considers possible explanations, but they each defy logic. Your brain already knows what your heart is desperately trying to deny. Your children have been kidnapped.

There are few horrors that can rival the experience of having one’s child kidnapped. Movies and television shows sensationalize child abduction. The nightly news further distorts correct understanding of child abduction by only reporting on the most dramatic of cases, for example, the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. There exists, however, a less-glamorous form of child abduction which is perpetrated by the child’s own parent.

Parental Kidnappings

Each year there are more than 350,000 child abductions in America. The vast majority of these kidnappings are perpetrated by one of the child’s parents. The official term for this type of crime is “parental child abduction”, but it is also referred to as a “child kidnapping” or “child snatching”. Regardless of the terminology, the fact that the child is taken by the other parent does not diminish or negate the raw emotional trauma inflicted upon the other parent.

Parental kidnapping is the unlawful abduction of a child by one parent which deprives the other parent of their lawful custody of the child.  In divorce situations, the abductor may be the custodial or the non-custodial parent. This means that even if the abductor is the custodial parent or primary caregiver, if the abduction deprives the other parent of his or her court ordered visitation time then the custodial parent is guilty of parental child abduction.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention conducted an intensive and thorough research study on child abduction in America. The project is called the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART). The section that focused specifically on children abducted by family members is called NISMART-2. This article extensively references the NISMART-2. The original study may be found at: http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org

Defining Parental Child Abduction

“For the purposes of NISMART-2, family abduction was defined as the taking or keeping of a child by a family member in violation of a custody order, a decree, or other legitimate custodial rights, where the taking or keeping involved some element of concealment, flight, or intent to deprive a lawful custodian indefinitely of custodial privileges.”

The NISMART-2 elaborates on the definition above by further defining the following terms:

  • Taking: Child was taken by a family member in violation of a custody order or decree or other legitimate custodial right.
  • Keeping: Child was not returned or given over by a family member in violation of a custody order or decree or other legitimate custodial right.
  • Concealment: Family member attempted to conceal the taking or whereabouts of the child with the intent to prevent return, contact or visitation.
  • Flight: Family member transported or had the intent to transport the child from the State for the purpose of making recovery more difficult.
  • Intent to deprive indefinitely: Family member indicated intent to prevent contact with the child on an indefinite basis or to affect custodial privileges indefinitely.

Conceptualizing the Problem

Of the 203,900 parental child abduction cases studied, 57% were labeled as “caretaker missing”, meaning that the victimized parent did not know where the child was for at least 1 hour, became alarmed and searched for the missing child. However, the NISMART-2 reveals:

“It is possible for a child to have been unlawfully removed from custody by a family member, but for that child’s whereabouts to be fully known. Thus, a child can be abducted but not necessarily missing.”

In fact, the study found that 43% of the children kidnapped were not thought of as “missing” by the victimized parent because the child’s whereabouts were known to the victim parent.

“Although the family abductions described in this study typically had certain disturbing elements such as attempts to prevent contact or alter custodial arrangements permanently, they did not generally involve the most serious sorts of features associated with the types of family abductions likely to be reported in the news. Actual concealment of the child occurred in a minority of episodes. Use of force, threats to harm the child and flight from the State were uncommon. In contrast to the image created by the word ‘abduction,’ most of the children abducted by a family member were already in the lawful custody of the perpetrator when the episode started. In addition, nearly half of the family abducted children were returned in 1 week or less.”

Even if the child is not considered missing, the abduction is still considered child abuse because of the damage that it inflicts upon the child. The NISMART-1 found that, “family abduction can result in psychological harm to the child” and the NISMART-2 states that “family abductions constitute an important peril in the lives of children it is important to remember that the potential harm to family abducted children exists whether or not they are classified as missing”.

Characteristics of Parental Abductions

Location and Season. 73% of parental abductions took place in the child’s own home or yard, or in the home or yard of a relative or friend. Children were removed from schools or day care centers in only 7% of the cases. In 63% of the cases, the children were already with the abductor in lawful circumstances immediately prior to the abduction.

Police Contact. In 40% of all cases, the aggrieved parent did not contact the police to report the abduction. The study found a number of reasons for this, but the majority of responses indicated that the parent did not believe that the police would intervene in the matter because the child’s whereabouts were known, they were in the care of a legal guardian, and it did not appear that the child was being harmed. The highest percentage of abductions took place during the summer.

Ages. 45% of abductors were in their 30’s. 44% of abducted children were younger than age 6.

Indicators of serious episodes. “The use of threats, physical force, or weapons was relatively uncommon in family abductions.” 17% were moved out of State with the intent to make recovery more difficult. 44% were concealed, at least temporarily, from the victimized parent-+. 76% included attempts to prevent contact. 82% included intent to permanently affect the custodial privileges of the aggrieved parent.

Conclusion

Parental child abduction is the unlawful kidnapping of a child by one parent which deprives the other parent of his or her lawful custodial rights. This kind of child snatching not only victimizes the other parent, but it is also a serious form of child abuse.

When the abducting parent chooses to go underground or flees the state or country, recovery of the child becomes exceptionally difficult – and sometimes impossible. Because of this, if you suspect that your child is at risk of abduction you must act now. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of abduction, as well as actions designed to make the recovery of your child far more likely.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Profiles of Parents At Risk for Abducting Their Children


“You’ll never see your child again!” When
are these words an idle threat spoken in
anger and frustration and when are they
a warning that a parent intends to abduct
his or her child, depriving the child and
the other parent of future contact?

By: U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Profile 1: When There Has Been a Prior threat of or Actual Abduction
When a parent has made credible threats to abduct a child
or has a history of hiding the child, withholding visitation, or
snatching the child from the other parent, there is great distrust
between the parents and a heightened risk of further
custody violation. This risk profile is usually combined with
one or more of the other profiles. In these cases, the underlying
psychological and social dynamics that motivate the
abduction need to be understood and addressed. When other
risk factors are present, one or more of the following are general
indicators of an imminent threat of flight with the child:
-The parent is unemployed, homeless, and without emotional
or financial ties to the area.
– The parent has divulged plans to abduct the child and has
the resources or the support of extended family and/or
friends and underground dissident networks needed to
survive in hiding.
– The parent has liquidated assets, made maximum withdrawals
of funds against credit cards, or borrowed money
from other sources.

Profile 2: When a Parent Suspects or Believes
Abuse Has Occurred and Friends and Family
Members Support These Concerns
Many parents abduct their child because they believe that the
other parent is abusing, molesting, or neglecting the child.
These abducting parents feel that the authorities have not
taken them seriously or properly investigated the allegations.
Repeated allegations increase the hostility and distrust
between the parents. Parents who have the fixed belief
that abuse has occurred—and will continue to occur—then
“rescue” the child, often with the help of supporters who concur
with their beliefs, justify their actions, and often help with
the abduction and concealment. Supporters might include
family members, friends, or underground networks (usually
women) that help “protective” parents (usually women) obtain
new identities and find safe locations.
In a large number of cases, the child has been previously
exposed to neglectful, endangering, or violent environments
(e.g., domestic violence or substance abuse). In
these cases, the courts and child protective services may
have failed to protect the child and the concerned parent or
family member. They may have trivialized the allegations,
dismissing them as invalid or the product of a contentious
divorce. Often, however, the allegation of sexual abuse by a
father or stepfather that motivates a mother to abduct her
child is unsubstantiated. In these cases, the abduction can
psychologically harm the child and the other parent, possibly
leaving their relationship in serious need of repair.

Profile 3: When a Parent Is Paranoid Delusional
Although only a small percentage of parents fit this profile,
these parents present the greatest risk of physical harm or
death to the child, regardless of whether an abduction occurs.
Parents who fit the paranoid profile hold markedly irrational
or psychotic delusions that the other parent will definitely
harm them and/or the child. Believing themselves to
be betrayed and exploited by their former partner, these
parents urgently take what they consider to be necessary
measures to protect themselves and the child.
Psychotic parents do not perceive the child as a separate
person. Rather, they perceive the child as part of
themselves—that is, as a victim (in which case they take
unilateral measures to rescue the child)—or they perceive
the child as part of the hated other parent (in which case
they may precipitously abandon or even kill the child). Marital
separation and/or the instigation of the custody dispute
generally triggers an acute phase of danger for these psychotic
individuals. The result can be not only parental abduction,
but also murder and suicide.

Profile 4: When a Parent Is Severely Sociopathic
Sociopathic parents are characterized by a long history of
flagrant violations of the law and contempt for any authority—
including that of the legal system. Their relationships withother people are self-serving, exploitive, and highly manipulative.
These people are also likely to hold exaggerated
beliefs about their own superiority and entitlement
and are highly gratified by their ability to exert power and
control over others. As with paranoid and delusional parents,
sociopathic parents are unable to perceive their children
as having separate needs or rights. Consequently,
they often use their children as instruments of revenge or
punishment or as trophies in their fight with the former
partner. Sociopathic parents have no qualms about continuing
coercive, controlling, and abusive behavior or abducting
their child, nor do they believe that they should be
punished for their actions. Like paranoia, a diagnosis of
severe sociopathy is rare.

Profile 5: When a Parent Who Is a Citizen of
Another Country Ends a Mixed-Culture Marriage
Parents who are citizens of another country (or who have
dual citizenship with the United States) and have strong
ties to their extended family in their country of origin have
long been recognized as potential abductors. The risk of
abduction is especially acute at the time of parental separation
and divorce, when these parents may feel cast adrift
from their mixed-culture marriage and may need to return
to their ethnic or religious roots to find emotional support
and reconstitute a shaken self-identity. Often in reaction to
being rendered helpless or feeling rejected and discarded
by the former spouse, such parents may try to take unilateral
action by returning with the child to their family of origin.
This is a way of insisting that the abducting parent’s
cultural identity be given preeminent status in the child’s
upbringing.

Profile 6: When Parents Feel Alienated From the
Legal System and Have Family/Social Support
in Another Community
Many subgroups of potential abductors feel alienated from
the judicial system. Listed below are five such subgroups.

1. Parents who are indigent and poorly educated
lack knowledge about custody and abduction laws and cannot
afford the legal representation or psychological counseling that
would help them resolve their disputes. Those parents who
have extended family or other social, emotional, and economic
support in another geographical community may be at risk for
abducting their children.
Subgroup

2. Many parents cannot afford and are unaware of
the need to access the court system. In addition, those who
have had prior negative experiences with civil or criminal
courts do not expect family courts to be responsive to their
values or their plight.
Subgroup

3. Parents who belong to certain ethnic, religious,
or cultural groups may hold views about childrearing that
are contrary to the prevailing custody laws that emphasize
gender neutrality and the rights of both parents. These
parents instead turn to their own social networks for support
and use informal self-help measures rather than the courts
in disputes over the children.
Subgroup

4. A mother who has a transient, unmarried relationship
with her child’s father often views the child as her
property, and her extended family supports this belief. Many
of the women in this subgroup assume they have sole custody
of their child and are genuinely surprised when they are
informed that the father—by law in California and most other
States—has joint rights to the child.
Subgroup

5. Parents who are victims of domestic violence
are at risk of abducting their child, especially when the courts
and community have failed to take the necessary steps to protect
them from abuse or to hold the abuser accountable. Joint
custody, mediated agreements, and visitation orders often
leave victims vulnerable to ongoing violence, despite separation
from the abuser. When such victims abduct their child, the
violent partners may successfully obscure the facts about the
abuse and activate the abduction laws to regain control of their
victims.

Read the entire report here: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/185026.pdf

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our website at: www.abpworld.com

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How to recover your abducted child


Are you prepared in the event your child is abducted?

Seconds Count: Don’t Wait for an Abduction to Gather Information

Are you prepared in the event your child is abducted? Every parent tries to prepare their child for a possible abduction but parents also need to be prepared in the event the worst does happen?

Teaching you children to be careful does not stop an abduction but the better prepared parents are the better chance we have of recovering our children before it’s too late.

The most common form of child abduction is now known as parental abduction. It is not uncommon for a parent to abduct their own child as a form of revenge against their ex-spouse. Even if your former spouse does not seem like a vengeful person it is best to be prepared for the worst rather than being blindsided if your child is abducted by your ex.

Always have the following information in a place that you can easily access if you find yourself on the wrong end of such a crime. Many of the following apply for either parental or stranger abduction.

• Current photos and video of child and former spouse
• Up to date child ID kit.
• DNA Sample
• Description of former spouse’s car and plate numbers
• List of tattoos or distinguishing marks on both child and former spouse

Stranger abductions are less common but there is still a very real risk of your child being abducted out of a school yard or even from your own backyard. According to the FBI about 300 children are victims of stranger abduction every year. In order to assist the police and speed their ability to recover your child quickly from an abductor make sure you pay attention to the clothes your child walks out of the house in order give an accurate description.

Be aware of any strangers or vehicles hanging around the neighborhood or schoolyard. Always have your child’s ID kit and DNA sample in a safe but convenient place so when the police arrive you have them ready.

-Get a good lawyer with experience from child abduction cases

-Contact your closest missing children organisation

-Contact the police to report your child missing/abducted

-Don`t wait for the police to solve the case,..They usually never put any effort in this kind of cases

-Talk with other parents who has been in the same situation, and ask what they did to get their children back

-Search answers from specialists in abducted children retrievals

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

New Definition of Parental Alienation Syndrome


What is the Difference Between Parental Alienation (PA) and Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?

by Douglas Darnall

In Dr. Richard Gardner’s second edit of parental alienation syndrome, he defined PAS as “a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrination and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent.” He went on to emphasize the point that if “true parental abuse and / or neglect is present” and the child’s animosity is justified, PAS would not be an appropriate explanation for the children’s feelings.

Gardner describes what the severely alienated child will look like. To better understand PAS and help prevent the damage its causes children and families, I am suggesting that parents and the courts must understand the process that leads to PAS. Therefore I am defining parental alienation (PA), rather than PAS, as any constellation of behaviors, whether conscious or unconscious, that could evoke a disturbance in the relationship between a child and the other parent.


My definition of Parental Alienation is different from Dr. Gardner’s original definition of PAS in 1987: “a disturbance in which children are preoccupied with deprecation and criticism of a parent-denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated.” I am placing the emphasis on the brainwashing process while Dr. Gardner’s definition goes a step further to explain that the term is similar in meaning to brainwashing except that he adds the additional component of the child becoming active participant in the denigrating the targeted parent. In effect, the child has been successfully brainwashed.

With either definition, the motivation for the alienating parent has both a conscious as well as “a subconscious or unconscious” component.

The children themselves may have motivations that will make the alienation worse. Their hedonistic outlook for immediate gratification or their desire to avoid discomfort makes them vulnerable allies for siding with the alienating parent. The children become an advocate for the alienating parent by becoming the spokesperson for their parent’s hatred. They become the soldiers while the alienating parent is the general directing the action in the background against the targeted parent. The children are frequently unaware of how they are being used. It is most important to understand that if the child is angry and refuses to visit the targeted parent because of actual abuse or neglect, the child’s behavior is not a manifestation of PAS. This is why the issue of false allegations is so important.

Another difference in what I am outlining in my book (“Divorce Casualties: Protecting Your Children From Parental Alienating“) is my emphasis on the alienating parents rather then on the severity of symptoms. I believe this is important because parents (both mothers and fathers) must be able to honestly look at their behavior, identify the symptoms of alienation (not just the symptoms of PAS), and learn strategies for preventing PA regardless of whether the parent is the alienator or the targeted parent. I believe that alienation is a reciprocal process where both parents get caught up in alienation.

Dr. Gardner’s most controversial solution for dealing with severe alienation was to remove the children from the alienator’s home and place the child with the targeted parent. Later, however, he recanted his recommendation, saying that the children “are likely to run away and do everything possible to return to [the alienating parent’s] home (Gardner, 1992).”  Dr. Gardner then recommended “transitional sites” such as friend or family member’s house, a community shelter, or hospital. Each site would have a different level of supervision and resources to help the children and targeted parent. Hospitalization would be used only as a last resort.

Dr. Gardner’s definition emphasized the point that the child must be an active participant with the alienating parent in degrading the targeted parent.  My definition of Parental Alienation (PA) focuses more on the parent’s behavior and less on the child’s role in degrading the victimized parent, because alienation can occur well before the parent’s hatred for the other parent permeates the child’s beliefs about the victimized parent. This definition is necessary if parents are going to recognize the risk they have for unconsciously falling into a pattern of alienation if they don’t take corrective action. By the time the children have come to agree with the alienating parent’s propaganda, it can too late to prevent the significant damaging effects of the alienation. *(See Note at the end of this article for an important new finding.)
Also, Dr. Gardner’s definition states that the criticism of the other parent must be unjustified and/or exaggerated. I do not believe this is necessary. One parent can alienate the children against the other parent simply by harping on faults that are real and provable. Divorced parents need to understand that their children need to love both parents if at all possible, even if they themselves have years ago ceased to love their ex-spouse or ex-partner. They should help the children to dwell on the other parent’s good points rather than the faults.

It is important to keep in mind that that alienation is not about the horrible parent or “bad guy,” versus the targeted parent or “good guy.” The “bad guy-good guy” roles rotate. The same parent can be both the alienator and the victim, depending on how he or she is behaving. It is not uncommon for a targeted parent to retaliate with alienating behavior against the other parent. At this point, the parents have reversed their roles. This process can occur well before PAS manifest itself. The problem now is that the alienation escalates back and forth, each parent retaliating against the other. What does this do to your children? It is this vicious cycle that must be prevented or stopped.

You can’t assume that the targeted parent is without fault. Targeted parents can become alienators when they retaliate because of their hurt. Now they are in the role of the alienator and the other parent becomes the victim. The roles become blurred because it’s now difficult to know who is the alienator and who is the victim or targeted parent. Often both parents feel victimized. Alienation is a process, not a person.

Understanding parental alienation is paramount for a child’s welfare and a parent’s own peace of mind. Divorced parents, grandparents, judges, mediators, attorneys, and mental health workers all need to understand the dynamics of parental alienation, recognize the symptomatic behavior, and execute tactics for combating the malady.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Symptoms of Parental Alienation


by Douglas Darnall, Ph.D.

To prevent the devastating effects of Parental Alienation, you must begin by recognizing the symptoms of PA. You will notice that many of the symptoms or behaviors focus on the parent. When the child exhibits hatred and vilifies the targeted parent, then the condition becomes parental alienation syndrome. After reading the list, don’t get discouraged when you notice that some of your own behaviors have been alienating. This is normal in even the best of parents. Instead, let the list help sensitize you to how you are behaving and what you are saying to your children.

1. Giving children choices when they have no choice about visits. Allowing the child to decide for themselves to visit when the court order says there is no choice sets up the child for conflict. The child will usually blame the non-residential parent for not being able to decide to choose whether or not to visit. The parent is now victimized regardless of what happens; not being able to see his children or if he sees them, the children are angry.

2. Telling the child “everything” about the marital relationship or reasons for the divorce is alienating. The parent usually argues that they are “just wanting to be honest” with their children. This practice is destructive and painful for the child. The alienating parent’s motive is for the child to think less of the other parent.

3. Refusing to acknowledge that children have property and may want to transport their possessions between residences.

4. Resisting or refusing to cooperate by not allowing the other parent access to school or medical records and schedules of extracurricular activities.

5. A parent blaming the other parent for financial problems, breaking up the family, changes in lifestyle, or having a girlfriend/boyfriend, etc.

6. Refusing to be flexible with the visitation schedule in order to respond to the child’s needs. The alienating parent may also schedule the children in so many activities that the other parent is never given the time to visit. Of course, when the targeted parent protests, they are described as not caring and selfish.

7. Assuming that if a parent had been physically abusive with the other parent, it follows that the parent will assault the child. This assumption is not always true.

8. Asking the child to choose one parent over another parent causes the child considerable distress. Typically, they do not want to reject a parent, but instead want to avoid the issue. The child, not the parent, should initiate any suggestion for change of residence.

9. Children will become angry with a parent. This is normal, particularly if the parent disciplines or has to say “no”. If for any reason the anger is not allowed to heal, you can suspect parental alienation. Trust your own experience as a parent. Children will forgive and want to be forgiven if given a chance. Be very suspicious when the child calmly says they cannot remember any happy times with you or say anything they like about you.

10. Be suspicious when a parent or stepparent raises the question about changing the child’s name or suggests an adoption.

11. When children cannot give reasons for being angry towards a parent or their reasons are very vague without any details.

12. A parent having secrets, special signals, a private rendezvous, or words with special meanings are very destructive and reinforce an on-going alienation.

13. When a parent uses a child to spy or covertly gather information for the parent’s own use, the child receives a damaging message that demeans the victimized parent.

14. Parents setting up temptations that interfere with the child’s visitation.

15. A parent suggesting or reacting with hurt or sadness to their child having a good time with the other parent will cause the child to withdraw and not communicate. They will frequently feel guilty or conflicted not knowing that it’s “okay” to have fun with their other parent.

16. The parent asking the child about his/her other parent’s personal life causes the child considerable tension and conflict. Children who are not alienated want to be loyal to both parents.

17. When parents physically or psychologically rescue the children when there is no threat to their safety. This practice reinforces in the child’s mind the illusion of threat or danger, thereby reinforcing alienation.

18. Making demands on the other parent that is contrary to court orders.

19. Listening in on the children’s phone conversation they are having with the other parent.

20. One way to cause your own alienation is making a habit of breaking promises to your children. In time, your ex-spouse will get tired of having to make excuses for you.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Parental Child Abduction – Lesson 2


By: Jake Morphonios

If you suspect that your child is at risk of parental kidnapping, now is the time to prepare. Here is what to do first.

Parental child abduction is the unlawful kidnapping of a child by one parent which deprives the other parent of his or her lawful custodial rights. This kind of child snatching not only victimizes the other parent, but it is also a serious form of child abuse.

When the abducting parent chooses to go underground or flees the state or country, recovery of the child becomes exceptionally difficult – and sometimes impossible. Because of this, if you suspect that your child is at risk of abduction you must act now. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of abduction, as well as actions designed to make the recovery of your child far more likely.

It takes time, time that you don’t have, to assemble sufficient documentation to provide to authorities following the abduction of your child. To complicate matters, should your child be kidnapped you will most certainly not be in a calm state of mind.  Focusing well enough to collect necessary materials will be difficult.  Therefore, preassemble two sets of the following documents:

On the Children

  • Several recent color photos of each of your children
  • Two sets of your children’s fingerprints
  • A list of your children’s social security numbers
  • Copies of medical insurance cards
  • A list of the child’s scars or other distinguishing physical marks
  • Any passport numbers or drivers license numbers
  • A list of your children’s bank account numbers
  • A copy of any court order regarding child custody
  • All your child’s email addresses or networking sites such as MySpace
  • Your children’s cell phone number(s)

On the Other Parent

  • Several recent color photos of the other parent or potential family abductor
  • A list of the other parent’s scars or other distinguishing physical marks
  • Two sets of the other parent’s fingerprints, if available
  • Any passport or drivers license numbers
  • A list of the other parent’s email addresses or social networking sites such as MySpace
  • The other parent’s telephone number(s) and all known addresses
  • The names and contact information of the other parent’s close friends and family
  • A list of all credit cards, bank accounts or other financial data
  • Car information including, registrations, serial numbers makes, models, descriptions
  • A list of any bank or retirement accounts, negotiable instruments and brokerage accounts
  • A list of any other assets which could quickly be liquidated for cash

The purpose in creating two sets of materials is so that the materials can be kept in two separate “safe” spots. If the abductor takes your set from your home, you will still be able to obtain the other set. Leave this other set somewhere you can access quickly, such as in the home of a local family member or friend. Do not leave the information in a safe deposit box because if the abduction takes place after banking hours you won’t be able to obtain your file.

Should your child be kidnapped, it is vital to quickly locate their whereabouts. Having materials gathered and well-organized will assist both you and the authorities in launching a quick and effective search for your children.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

The Philippines – International Parental Child Abduction


The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the Philippines and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. Therefore, there is no treaty remedy by which the left behind parent would be able to pursue recovery of the child/ren should they be abducted to or wrongfully retained in the Philippines.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

If you suspect that your child is at risk of parental kidnapping, now is the time to prepare.


By: Jake Morphonios

Parental child abduction is the unlawful kidnapping of a child by one parent which deprives the other parent of his or her lawful custodial rights. This kind of child snatching not only victimizes the other parent, but it is also a serious form of child abuse.

When the abducting parent chooses to go underground or flees the state or country, recovery of the child becomes exceptionally difficult – and sometimes impossible. Because of this, if you suspect that your child is at risk of abduction you must act now. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of abduction, as well as actions designed to make the recovery of your child far more likely.

It takes time, time that you don’t have, to assemble sufficient documentation to provide to authorities following the abduction of your child. To complicate matters, should your child be kidnapped you will most certainly not be in a calm state of mind.  Focusing well enough to collect necessary materials will be difficult.  Therefore, preassemble two sets of the following documents:

On the Children

  • Several recent color photos of each of your children
  • Two sets of your children’s fingerprints
  • A list of your children’s social security numbers
  • Copies of medical insurance cards
  • A list of the child’s scars or other distinguishing physical marks
  • Any passport numbers or drivers license numbers
  • A list of your children’s bank account numbers
  • A copy of any court order regarding child custody
  • All your child’s email addresses or networking sites such as MySpace
  • Your children’s cell phone number(s)

On the Other Parent

  • Several recent color photos of the other parent or potential family abductor
  • A list of the other parent’s scars or other distinguishing physical marks
  • Two sets of the other parent’s fingerprints, if available
  • Any passport or drivers license numbers
  • A list of the other parent’s email addresses or social networking sites such as MySpace
  • The other parent’s telephone number(s) and all known addresses
  • The names and contact information of the other parent’s close friends and family
  • A list of all credit cards, bank accounts or other financial data
  • Car information including, registrations, serial numbers makes, models, descriptions
  • A list of any bank or retirement accounts, negotiable instruments and brokerage accounts
  • A list of any other assets which could quickly be liquidated for cash

The purpose in creating two sets of materials is so that the materials can be kept in two separate “safe” spots. If the abductor takes your set from your home, you will still be able to obtain the other set. Leave this other set somewhere you can access quickly, such as in the home of a local family member or friend. Do not leave the information in a safe deposit box because if the abduction takes place after banking hours you won’t be able to obtain your file.

Should your child be kidnapped, it is vital to quickly locate their whereabouts. Having materials gathered and well-organized will assist both you and the authorities in launching a quick and effective search for your children.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Parental child abduction – help and info


by Kendra Inman

parental child abduction | help and info

When relationships break down, a minority of parents cannot face the prospect of living apart from their child or even of sharing the care of the children with their ex-partner. Occasionally, a parent will decide to take the law into their own hands and bring their children to live with them without the permission of the other parent or the courts – an act called parental child abduction.

It can occur whether or not the parents are separated or divorced and sometimes even regardless of the existence of court orders. Abducting a child – also called kidnapping – is a criminal as well as a civil offence, although the criminal law is hardly ever invoked and it is left to the parent who has lost the child to use the civil courts to get the child back. Even then this will be a steeply uphill task – though prevention is slightly easier than cure.

Anecdotal evidence suggests parental child abduction is increasingly common, says Denise Carter, director of Reunite, a campaigning charity set up to help parents whose children have been abducted or who are involved in international custody disputes.

home alone

Whatever the reason for the snatch, losing a child through abduction is a traumatic experience, says Ms Carter.

Parents react differently, she says. Some are incredibly strong and focused on getting their child back. Others can become severely depressed from their loss and turn their anger and upset inward against themselves.

Reunite can help parents refocus their energies into more positive action.

‘We encourage them to do one proactive thing a day such as dig out photographs or make a call.’

children’s rights

How much a child is affected by abduction varies with each case, the place and country that they’re taken to and how they are now being brought up by the parent who snatched them.

Where and how they’ve been living is often more important than how long they’ve been away from the parent with custody they’ve been snatched from, she explains.

A British child taken to an English-speaking country may be less disturbed by the experience than a child taken to a country where there are significant language and cultural differences. In other words, if the environment feels more familiar to them they will be better able to adjust.

On the downside, factors such as high conflict between the parents and the breaking of other important ties and connections will have a detrimental impact on the child.

against the clock

A parent whose child has been snatched has to face the fact that time is running against them. If their child has recently been abducted the courts are likely to work to restore the ‘status quo’ and send the child back home as quickly as possible.

But the longer the child is away there is a danger that the ‘status quo’ from the child’s point of view will switch to the abducting parent’s home.

‘If a child has been away for a long time, such as two years, the court might need to question whether it is in the best interests of that child to bring them back,’ says Ms Carter. The paramount consideration for the courts here will be the welfare of the child and it will focus on the child’s best interests rather than the war between the parents.

out of reach

‘International child abduction is a growing problem globally, but particularly from the UK,’ she says.

Reasons behind this increase include greater numbers of relationships between partners of different nationalities and easier and cheaper travel facilities.

Statistics taken from the Reunite advice line suggest that child abduction across an international barrier has increased by 87% since 1995. The Child Abduction Unit, part of the Lord Chancellor’s Department which deals with abductions to countries signed up to one of two international agreements, says it deals with over 500 children annually. Recently Reunite has noticed an increase in abductions by British women who marry a foreign national and bring their children home to the UK when the marriage goes wrong.

international agreements – help under the civil law

To date, 69 states, including the UK have either or both the Hague and/or European Conventions including: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Canada (most states), Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus (southern), Czech Republic, Denmark Ecuador, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Republic of Iceland, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macao, Macedonia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, St.Kitts and Nevis, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Turkmenistan, USA, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.

Two international conventions, The Hague Convention and the European Convention, became law here from 1985. The two-fold purposes of each Convention are to secure the immediate return of a child to his or her own country of habitual residence and to ensure that international disputes over access are dealt with by the country of origin.

Both Conventions actively discourage the courts from looking at the merits of the case except in certain very restricted circumstances – they are there to ensure the children are returned home.

Countries that are signatories agree to follow a set protocol. Under the Hague Convention children must be returned to the country of ‘habitual residence’ if they have been wrongfully removed or access and custody rights breached. The European Convention covers most European states, whilst the net of the Hague Convention spreads more widely across the world. To make an application under the Conventions both countries must be signatories. Parents whose children have been abducted from England and Wales to a country that has signed the Hague Convention can apply for help through the Lord Chancellors Department Child Abduction Unit who will help them complete a questionnaire and process the application to the signatory country where the child is now living. The court authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland provide similar help.

legal hurdles

How long it will take to deal with the application for return will depend on the country concerned, the circumstances of the case and indeed whether the child can be traced. The average length of time is five to six months, but children abducted to New Zealand or Scandinavia for example can be returned within a month.

Tracing a child overseas is fraught with difficulties, says Ms Carter.

‘If a child is abducted and brought to the UK, the parent who seeks to get the child returned home may be able to get legal aid. If a child is abducted and taken to a country where there is no legal aid the parent in pursuit will need to find a ‘pro bono’ lawyer (one that works in a scheme that offers free legal advice) if they can’t afford the legal fees themselves.

‘You may get a fantastic lawyer or you may not. How much help you get varies with the country,’ she says.

The Child Abduction Unit can provide parents with information about legal costs in specific countries.

outside the Conventions

The Conventions are only valid in countries that have signed up to them. If a child is moved to a country which isn’t a signatory, wronged parents have no legal remedy in this country to secure the child’s return. Their only option is to travel to the foreign country to start off proceedings for the child’s return in that jurisdiction. Inevitably this will be very time consuming and expensive and sadly success is far from guaranteed.

Depending on the laws of the country concerned, the courts might well make decisions in favour of abducting parents. Where there are no international agreements, parents need to contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for advice on how to proceed. This office can provide a list of local lawyers who correspond in English, approach local authorities for help in tracing the child’s whereabouts and provide informal help locally.

The office is also involved in discussions with non-convention countries to give practical support such as visiting rights to UK parents.

the power of the press

Sometimes using the media to publicise a case can yield results. In one case a child was abducted from the US and brought to the UK. The child was poorly and it was important that he attended hospital.

‘We knew they were in the UK but we had no other leads on the case at all,’ says Ms Carter. The organisation turned to the TV for help and after a couple of broadcasts the child was found.

But each case is unique and in some abduction cases seeking publicity is the worst thing you can do.

‘Sometimes you have to be quiet and lull the errant parent into a false sense of security.’

Parental-Kidnapping

 

worried about abduction?

Reunite runs an advice line and publishes information packs about preventing abduction and how to proceed if the worst has happened.

The charity has this advice for parents who suspect their former partner will attempt to abduct their child.

  • Seek immediate advice from a family lawyer. You may need to get a court order – like a residence order under the Children Act 1989, which determines which parent will primarily look after a child and should also to stop your child being taken out of the country without your prior permission.
  • Write to the UK Passport Service and ask them not to grant your child a passport without your permission (this is only possible where you have got an order from the court in certain circumstances). But the Passport Office has no power to ask for a passport to be surrendered if it has already been issued.
  • Contact the police. If they are convinced there is a real threat they can issue a ‘port alert’ to alert possible points of departure in the UK. How effective a port alert will be depends a lot on how much information you can supply them with – make sure that you have available a recent photo of your child and the other parent which can be circulated and if you have details of which port – airport or sea port for example – your child is likely to travel through, that will help the police focus their efforts.
  • Get a child abduction prevention pack from Reunite

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

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Pakistan International Parental Child Abduction


Contributed by Muhammad Bilal Sarwari http://www.pakistanlaw.net

Under Pakistani family law, which is based on Islamic law, the father controls virtually all aspects of his family’’s life. He decides where his wife and children will live, how the children are to be educated and whether or where they may travel. Courts rarely, if ever, give custody of children to a woman who is not a Muslim, who will not raise the children as Muslims, does not plan to raise them in Pakistan, or has remarried. In all probability, even if the mother wins custody, the children would still need the father’s permission, to leave the country. Any matter of custody in Pakistan can only be resolved through the appropriate local judicial system.

Currently, the only treaties which have any application to abductions of children from the United States are the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the extradition treaties which the United States has with individual countries. Pakistan is not a party to the Hague Convention, and there is no bilateral treaty in effect between the U.S. and Pakistan which would cover parental child abduction.

While the courts of Pakistan may take into account the laws of other countries, custody orders from other countries are viewed simply as evidence in a Pakistani proceeding. Possession of a custody order, even in the absence of such an order by the Pakistani spouse, will not automatically result in the return of an abducted child. That parent would have to appeal to the family court in order to try to obtain an order for custody.

Pakistan will recognize decrees of other countries, whether or not there are any formal treaties with them. Abduction by a father is considered abduction by Pakistani authorities (the implication being that it is considered to be an illegal action). However, a foreign-born mother with U.S. custody orders still is not automatically allowed to take possession of her children and depart the country. She would have to retain an attorney and appeal to the High court. The high court acts like a post office in such cases. They send the case to the appropriate district judge for execution. The District Court reviews the papers and then calls in the concerned parties for a hearing. In spite of the illegal action (the abduction), and even though the foreign-born mother has a court order, there is still a great possibility the mother will not be given custody of the child. Moreover, if she is granted custody, the father can appeal to the Supreme Court on a matter of law , which means there was some legal point which was not adhered to during the course of the hearing. If the Supreme Court grants custody (no cases have gone that far yet in this district), there is no further recourse for the father or mother. If the foreign-born mother is granted custody and the father does not comply with the court order, the children can be taken by force. In addition, other civil actions can be taken such as attaching the father s property or arresting him. If a foreign born mother were granted full custody of her child, the father has the right to refuse to allow the mother and child to depart if the court order does not specifically allow her to remove the children from Pakistan.

Although appeal to the courts may seem difficult to a mother seeking custody of her children, it is recommended that parents be urged to appeal to the courts or other legal resources available. If a foreign-born mother has the only court order (U.S. or other) in effect regarding the custody of her child, it is also recommended that in addition to appealing to the courts, she should seek assistance in effecting that order from other local authorities (i.e. from local police or school officials).

Parents seeking legal assistance in Pakistan should be advised that local attorneys in Pakistan do not reseach or investigate cases. Therefore, she must bring as much documentary evidence as she can when she comes to Pakistan. She may be able to hire a local investigator (attorneys also do not use the services of independent investigators) to gain whatever evidence she needs from Pakistan. At this point, it would probably be best for the mother to be present in Pakistan, at least part way through the investigation, to check on the actual progress being made and to try and minimize the possiblity that the investigator will be bribed to alter his findings.

The mother might wish to have a U.S. attorney review all collected evidence for advice on what may be useful and what may not. Once all evidence is collected, a Pakistani attorney should be retained. Constitutionally, courts are bound to resolve such cases within six months. But in reality, such cases could take more than one year if there are appeals. Since Pakistani attorneys do not do investigations, the costs incurred are purely for court-related costs and are therefore likely to be affordable, running as low as 10,000 Pakistani Rupees (U.S. Dollars $400.00) to 50,000 Pakistani Rupees (U.S. Dollars 2,000.00)

There are major family court sections in the civil courts in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar. In smaller towns, any judge could hear such a case.

In Pakistan, most mothers do not earn an income. The courts keep this is mind in determining what is in the best interests of the child. A father is legally bound to take care of his children no matter what since he is the income earner. A mother is not so bound. That is why, in most cases, the father is granted custody.

Laws protecting the rights of mothers are written into the Quran (Koran). Under Islamic law, a woman has the right to keep a boy child up to the age of seven years and a girl child up to the age of twelve. The Guardian and Wards Act of 1890 can be used to help American citizens in two categories of juvenile cases. It can be used to gain custody of a child for adoption purposes and it can be used to justify granting custody of a child to one parent or the other. According to the Act, a person who is granted custody of a child is given the responsibility to take care of the child and any property or other inheritance that may belong to that child. Since any inheritance is most likely to come through the father, the father would most likely prevail in such a situation.

The Extradition Treaty of 1931 was signed under the British mandate and could be used as a basis of cooperation in child custody cases. The Extradition Act of 1972 was not made with the U.S., but it could be extended in the interest of an American claimant. However, extradition has not been a recourse to which the U.S. Government has resorted in child custody cases.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com