Would it shock you to learn that it is reasonably estimated that in the United States each year, between 300,000 and 400,000 children are abducted by parents? Would it surprise you that a large number of these abductions occur during the process of separation, divorce, and/or child custody actions?
It surprised us!
The information comes from:
U.S. Department of Justice. Fact Sheet on Missing Children: National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children based on the research of David Finkelhor, Gerald Hotaling, and Andrea Sedlak. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquencyy Prevention, May 1990.
The figure was estimated at 354,000 in 1988 and rising since then.
While there are a variety of reasons that prompt a parent to kidnap their own children and engage in the most serious form of custodial interference, several studies show a common set of themes (a few in a longer list):
- As many as 2/3 of the abductions were post-custodial offenses. That means that the abduction occurred after the a court order had been issued dictating the custody of the child(ren).
- Mothers were more likely to abduct when a custody order existed
- Fathers were more likely to abduct when no custody order existed.
- Mothers were more likely to abscond with the children or otherwise deny a father’s visitation or parenting time.
- Fathers were more likely to use force to take their children or to fail to return them from their visitation or custody period.
These patterns of behavior are indicative of the reality that mothers are overwhelmingly the primary or sole custodial parent.
Prior to 1968, jurisdiction in child custody cases was dependent on a child’s residential within a particular state. This situation often contributed to child abductions by parents who were shopping for states that were more favorable in that regard. It was easy to run off and simply choose the state that would give you the greatest likelihood of child custody. It effectively provided incentive to run with the child(ren) and avoid actual kidnapping charges.
The United States has long since enacted several laws including the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA). These laws were enacted to deter interstate parental kidnapping and enforce child custody and visitation orders established by other state’s courts. In conjunction with these laws, the issuance of criminal warrants and other deterrents are potential ways to help prevent parental child abduction from occurring during your divorce process. They’re not foolproof and “Jurisdiction Shopping” continues this very day. Fortunately, almost all states now have requirements for duration of residency (for example, 6-months of established residency) before they’ll even consider taking jurisdiction over a custody matter.
There are preventing measures that you can put in place to limit your exposure to parental kidnapping or, at the very list, aid authorities in finding your children and having them returned to you as quickly as possible. They would include, in no particular order:
- Keep a journal. Record all factual events, including threats, from your high-conflict ex-partner. If you truly believe the likelihood of an abduction is high, be sure to record the type and color of clothing (including shoes, hats, gloves, if applicable) in the journal, too.
- Make a list of possible suspects in advance. Include as much vital data as possible: names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, places of employment, license plate numbers, etc.
- Keep photographs of your children current! Once per month would be fantastic, once per quarter would be our absolute minimum suggestion. Kids’ physical features can change rather quickly, so the greater your frequency, the better. Additionally, a full description of your child(ren) including physical characteristics, birthmarks, piercings, hair color, eye color, height, weight, and anything else that may be helpful. You may even consider fingerprinting your children and keeping the card in a safe, safe-deposit box, or other secure place.
- If a threat has been made, call the police! It’s especially helpful if the threat was left on a voice mail, in an email, or some other documented media. The mere threat may be grounds for legal action and an order of protection.
- Notify babysitters, nanny, daycare facilities, schools. Be careful with this one and we urge you to only do this if you have verifiable evidence of an actual threat. We are very much against false accusations and you must be aware that a false allegation can have legal consequences for you. Consult an attorney. We only recommend this measure if you firmly and truly believe the threat is real and verifiable. Otherwise, you will serve to unnecessarily concern these people with a danger that isn’t real. No one should release the children to anyone not authorized by you (the parent) and/or a court order.
The shocking bit is that this is considered shocking. It really shows just how strong the meme of ‘the stranger pedophile child abductor’ has become even though such cases are rare.
What is more shocking is when a mother has a one night stand. She some how believes the child is only hers. She goes after the father for child support then before the young father can learn his rights she disappears with the child. The father is stuck paying child support with not knowing how to locate the mother. If you call the Child Support Department asking for her location they only tell you “where not allowed to relinquish that information”. This is wrong. Things need to change. There needs to be changes where the only way they are not allowed to relinquish the information is by if there was a restraining on file with them(I do believe there is real abuse out there). It is wrong to withhold hold child for the parent period.
This happened in California. Now that the father has found the child and got visitation which was 7 years later. The mother upped an moved to a different state a month in half after she was served just before the court date. the mother is now making up false sexual assault charges on the first two visits. She got a ex parte restraining order from the judge based on lies. Interested to see how this turns out. I pray she gets punished. This is absurd disgusting and scary. Now it really makes you wonder what sex crimes or real or false. People like this mother should be punished for abusing the system the way she did. My problem is now when I read a story about abuse with children involved I wonder if it is true or not. Talk about hurting the real victims in this world.
This is my story 1 year ago My ex took my kid out of USA with my authorization just for 2 months(summer time). She called me after a month of her trip and told me that they are not coming back, that they are going to stay in her country that is also mine. But I’m married again my kid live here my life is here( more opportunity) I opened a case base in The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and they denied my kid to return to USA because they said that my 7 years old want to stay in that country and that i never was exercising my parent rights(false). she has custody but I always took care of my kid I never miss a week of my visitation time unless the kid was sick, I never planed a vacation trip without my kid he always was included in every trip with my new family because he was MY FAMILY and I wasn’t exercising my parenting right? I was ordered to pay child support after my divorce in 2006 but I start paying $600 per month since I left her in 2005 yes because I left her but I never left my kid. She was the one that took my right to see my kid growing everyday. I don’t know what else to do. Parental Kidnapping is now my terror movie. Also the law is not simple I called the police after she called me in 2009 I went to the police station and they wasn’t able to help me because she has the custody. if you don’t have MONEY to pay a lawyer like me we are LOST. Now my EX that took my kid is filing to get CHILD SUPPORT. Where are my RIGHTS???????????/
I have been prevented from seeing my sons for 4 years… The courts in California don’t do proper diligence and the mothers are the ones that strip a father and son relationship creating more mental harm to my sons and using them as pawns for personal gain! This makes me sick EVERYDAY knowing I have been stripped from seeing my sons… and with the way the economy is; NO ONE CARES!