According to the U.S. Department of Justice, over 350,000 parental abductions
occur every year.
“Parental kidnapping” is defined as the taking, or concealment,
of a child by one parent in violation of the other parent’s rights,
including terms set forth in a custody and visitation agreement.
If you believe your child has been kidnapped by a parent or is at risk
of being abducted, you should seek legal advice immediately.
Different scenarios that may be considered parental kidnapping (which is
a crime) include:
- If a parent doesn’t return a child after a scheduled visit.
- If a parent takes a child during a non-scheduled visitation time (from
school, day care, etc.) without notification or consent.
- If a parent takes a child out of the state or country without permission
from the other parent.
- If a parent moves with a child, and this move prevents the other parent
from his or her visitation rights, it is considered parental kidnapping,
even if a standing custody decision does not yet exist.
Legal protections you can take
If you fear your ex may take your child against your wishes, there are
some precautions you can take to prevent it. You can ask a judge to issue
an emergency custody order, which most states, including Oregon, provide.
Additionally, you may request that a stipulation be included in the order
to prevent the other parent from taking your child out of state. You may
also request that the child’s other parent only be allowed supervised
Cover your bases when you are not with your child
If you are the custodial parent, there are some other measures you can
take to protect your child as well. Contact school authorities, daycare
personnel, or other individuals who have access to your child, and ensure
they have a copy of the custody orders. This will help ensure your child,
or your child’s records, are not released to the non-custodial parent.
Increasingly, many parents are worried that an ex-spouse will take their
child out of the country. Every country has their own way of dealing with
international child abduction, so this can be a very complex issue and
should be urgently discussed with an attorney familiar with international
family law and the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. They can help
you with some protections, such as:
Our Portland attorneys at McKinley Irvin are intimately familiar with
Oregon’s child custody laws and can fight to ensure your child’s
best interests are met. When it comes to the well-being of your children,
don’t risk working with an inexperienced attorney. At McKinley Irvin,
we will aggressively advocate for your custody and visitation rights.
Contact us at our Portland office at (503) 395-0244.
- Adding travel restrictions to your custody order or a temporary order
- Surrendering your child’s passport to the court
- Signing up with the U.S. State Department to be alerted if someone attempts
to get a passport for your child