Each day approximately 2,100 children are reported missing throughout the United States. The majority of these children (82%) are abducted by a family member. Although there are laws against parental kidnapping, some custodial parents have experienced difficulty getting the assistance needed to find their abducted children. Officials often hesitate to issue Amber alerts or initiate wide spread searchers based on the false assumption that a child is safe with the parent who abducted them. Though 99.8% of abducted children are returned home, recognizing the signs that a parental kidnapping is being planned and preventing it is the best way to protect your children.
Take Direct Threats Seriously
A noncustodial parent who is thinking about abducting a child may threaten the custodial parent in advance. The parent who receives the threat will often believe the former partner is not serious and will dismiss what later is revealed to be a legitimate warning. If you are ever the recipient of a direct threat regarding the abduction of your child, take that threat seriously. Save documentation if the threat was made in writing (text message, email, or social media) and contact your family law attorney, child support enforcement agency, or domestic violence organization for advice or assistance. Consider modifying any existing custody orders to address parental kidnapping so that penalties for the action are clearly outlined.
Question the Strengthening of Ties Outside of the Area
Though it is not unusual for a person to seek a change of scenery after a divorce or serious breakup, always question a noncustodial parent’s reasons for strengthening ties in other areas. If a parent who was emphatic about having primary custody of the children suddenly seems ready to move away from those same children, it could mean that he or she is planning to take the children with them. Once you are certain your former partner is purchasing a new property, closing bank accounts, or attempting to obtain passports for your children, it is a good idea to alert your attorney.
Never Dismiss Erratic Behavior
The average person is used to explaining away or ignoring any behavior that seems erratic or unusual. Unfortunately, when a person ignores the unusual behavior of a former partner, he or she runs the risk of placing the children in danger. When a noncustodial parent becomes unusually aggressive, uncooperative, jealous, or hostile it could be a warning sign that they are planning to do something irrational. Someone who has reached his or her emotional limit may be more willing to risk the legal ramification of kidnapping a child.
Talk to an Attorney
When you or someone close to you is concerned about the actions or behavior of a noncustodial parent it is time to discuss your options with an attorney. A family law attorney who is familiar with contentious divorces, child custody battles, and actions that lead to contempt of court motions is able to offer you the guidance you need. The aggressive attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum are prepared to fight on your behalf to keep your children safe. Our team can work with you to modify existing custody agreements to ensure that your former spouse or partner understands that attempting to abduct your children will lead to serious consequences. Contact one of our four Atlanta area offices to schedule an appointment today.