Steps to Stopping an Abduction in Progress

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If you have reason to believe that your child is in the process of being abducted by a parent, legal guardian, or someone acting on their behalf, there are steps that can be taken to prevent the abduction. Immediate steps you can take include:


  • OBTAIN A COURT ORDER: A court order is vital to preventing the departure of a child. You can retain an attorney to discuss your options. Law enforcement may not be able to act unless there is a court order that prohibits the child's travel outside of the United States. Court orders preventing the removal of the minor child from the court's jurisdiction, the state, or the country will give law enforcement more authority to prevent abduction. For information regarding prevention under the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act visit here and also review our page titled Law and Regulations.
  • CONTACT LAW ENFORCEMENT: Contact law enforcement immediately and inform them of any court orders and the potential for international parental child abduction. Request that law enforcement enter information about your child as missing person in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) as soon as possible, so that your state's troopers or highway patrol can widen the search for your child. When working with any law enforcement official ask for the officer's full name, e-mail, fax number, direct phone number, a dispatch line with 24 hour coverage, and backup officer.
  • CONTACT AIRPORT POLICE AND THE AIRLINES: Contact the airlines and airport law enforcement that is stationed at the departing airport, if known. Because the United States has no exit controls, abductions can only be prevented if the appropriate authorities at ports of exit are made aware of courts orders that prohibit travel prior to departure. When contacting airlines, ask to speak with an airline corporate security officer, explain the situation, be ready to prove you have a parental relationship to the child, and ask if there is a reservation under your child's name. This can help mobilize efforts to stop child abductions.

Last Updated: November 13, 2023