In divorces where there is significant conflict, especially about child custody, one of the issues that may come up is the risk of a parental kidnapping. This kind of kidnapping occurs when a noncustodial parent takes away their children without permission or refuses to allow the other parent to see them.
Parental kidnapping doesn’t necessarily require the parent with the children to go far. Just taking steps to prevent the other parent from finding the children, even if they’re still in the local area, still could constitute kidnapping.
It’s a shocking situation to find yourself in. That’s why you should look for the red flags and take steps to protect your children.
The red flags of parental kidnapping
There are several red flags that signal that parental kidnapping is a possibility. If you see any of these, it may be a good idea to reach out to your attorney and the court about adjusting your custody arrangements.
- The other parent suddenly stops returning your children on time
One red flag that a kidnapping may occur is if the other parent stops returning your children to you on time. They may be trying to test the water to see how flexible you are with your expected custody transfer times. If you get used to them never being on time, then that could give them more time to flee with your children before you realize anything is wrong. Report this behavior to the court, because it’s a breach of your custody orders.
- Your child mentions having a passport
Did you child mention suddenly having a passport that you didn’t agree to? This is a major sign that something is going on that you don’t know about but should know about. If the other parent is planning to take your child abroad, that’s something that you both should have discussed before a passport was ever ordered.
- Your child mentions, or you find out about, an upcoming, unplanned trip
If your custody orders state that you and the other parent have to discuss trips out of the state but you find out that your ex has purchased flights for your children, it’s time to reach out to your attorney. Planning to violate your custody orders is a major sign that the other parent may be planning to run away with your kids.
These are three red flags to watch out for. Know that you do have legal options if you feel your children are in danger.