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Taking steps when your ex threatens to abduct your child

If your breakup with your child’s other parent did not go well, you may be dealing with frequent conflicts and confrontations as you try to co-parent as best you can. While it is possible that your ex is a competent or even loving parent, he or she may have some resentment over the custody arrangement or court order, especially if you obtained sole managing conservatorship that limits your ex’s visitation rights.

You may recognize when your ex is blowing off steam and when to take his or her words seriously, but you should not ignore threats that involve your children. If your ex threatens or intimates that he or she is considering taking your children away without your permission, you have every right to take whatever legal action necessary to protect your children.

Proactive protection

Parental abduction is not a common occurrence, but you may know your ex well enough to understand whether he or she is likely to follow through on threats. You may also notice other signs, such as your ex quitting his or her job, behaving like a victim, or showing other indications of mental instability. In many cases, parents abduct their children when they feel they are losing their custodial rights.

If you think this is a possibility, you would be wise to share with your attorney the following information:

  • The make, model and license plate of your ex’s vehicle
  • Your ex’s license number, Social Security number and cell phone number
  • Current photos and physical descriptions of your ex and your child
  • A log of threats or other factors that make you suspect your ex is planning to abduct the child
  • Information about where your ex may take the child, such as a relative’s house or a second residence in another state
  • A copy of your custody orders and parenting plan

If you do not have a court order for custody, file for one as soon as possible. Additionally, make sure your child’s school and daycare provider have copies of your order and abide by it strictly, especially at pickup time.

The abduction of a child is a nightmare no parent wants to plan for, even if the abductor is a parent. Your situation may be even more complex if your spouse has international ties and may remove the child from the U.S. Keeping your attorney informed of any factors that may escalate to an abduction can allow your legal counsel to help you protect your child and take the appropriate action in the event that your ex takes the child away.