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Watch out for parental abduction warning signs

Parental abduction happens when one parent takes the child outside of the state or even the country without the permission of the other parent.

For instance, perhaps you and your spouse got divorced, and you have joint custody of your child, who lives with you for a week and then with your ex for a week. Your ex has always said that he or she should have gotten sole custody,. Then he or she takes your child overseas during the week they spend together, refusing to come back.

This is a very serious problem. In the United States, without a court order saying that a child cannot leave the country, consent is often not needed from both parents. That's why it is so important to ensure that your custody order spells out exactly what you both can and cannot do after the divorce, giving the authorities some power to stop an abduction at the border.

That said, this often does not happen out of the blue. There may be warning signs, such as:

  • Your ex abruptly quits his or her job, without a reason.
  • Your ex suddenly sells his or her house.
  • Your ex sells off other major assets, like a car, that he or she would need if planning to remain in the United States.

If you think he or he may try to abduct the child and leave the country for good, these are serious red flags.

As you can see, it is important to know all of your legal options if you worry about parental abduction, both during and after your divorce.

Source: U.S. Department of State, "Prevention Tips," accessed April 19, 2018

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