- A detailed custody order and good legal advice can go a long way in protecting your parental rights.
- Detailed custody orders include special provisions on the custody decree such as specifying the beginning and end dates of visits; relocation restrictions; supervised visitation for the potential taking parent; requiring the court’s approval to take the child out of the state or country; and asking for the court or a neutral third party to hold passports.
- Consult your attorney about the drawbacks to joint-custody orders in parental abduction cases, if ordered. Ensure that you clearly specify the child’s residential arrangements at all times.
- Do not ignore any abduction threat. Notify police and give them copies of any restraining order on your ex-spouse. You may also request restricted locations for visitation rights if you can prove potential harm to your child.
- Be on the alert for sudden changes in the other parent’s life. Changes, such as quitting a job, selling a home, or closing a bank account, may be signs that the parent may be planning to leave the country.
- Don’t delay action if you think your child has been taken by the other parent. Make sure that if your child is abducted, the police take a detailed report and that your child is entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system right away (a warrant is not required).
- Be aware that if one parent is a citizen of another country, your child may have dual nationality. Contact the embassy of that country and inquire about their passport requirements for minors.
Office of Children's Issues at the U.S. Department of State
Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:15 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.