Some precautionary measures against parental kidnapping

Statistics show that most cases of parental kidnapping are committed by non-custodial parents (those who no longer live with their children) after separation.  But it can also be committed by a custodial parent when he/she brings the child outside of the state or of the country without the knowledge of the other parent, with the purpose of depriving the other parent of his/her visitation right. 

While there are legal remedies for the prosecution of a parent who commits parental kidnapping, it won’t hurt to take the following precautions:

  • Exert best efforts to be on good terms with your ex.  Most parental kidnapping cases are motivated by revenge or anger at the other spouse.  The children become tools in an ongoing battle between ex spouses.
  • Gather essential information about your ex that may be used later to trace his/her whereabouts.  Look for:  employer information, social security number, credit card and bank account numbers, and mobile phone numbers.  If you can collect a paper trail of information, try looking for photocopies of his/her driver’s license and car registration papers. 
  • If you are the custodial parent, inform the school of your fears and the existing situation between you and your ex, and advise the school to allow only your authorized representative to fetch your child from school.  Custodial parents may also provide the school with a copy of the nullity judgment, legal separation decree or custody order that they have in their favor.
  • Give clear instructions to your child about not going anywhere with anyone, including the other parent, without your permission. 
  • If you are the custodial parent, apply right away for a passport for your child.  If your child already has a passport, keep that passport under your watchful eye.  Controlling your child’s passport will more or less secure the presence of your child within the country.
  • Ask teachers, school bus drivers and others who are usually found in school grounds to look out for suspicious persons who seem to be interested in your child.  Ask them to inform you immediately of anything suspicious.
  • Check your local mobile network for phone or SIM tracking services.  If one is available, obtain a mobile phone for your child to take with him/her wherever he/she goes.  Mobile network providers have the technology to track the signal emanating from an operating mobile phone. 

16 thoughts on “Some precautionary measures against parental kidnapping

  1. via

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  3. patrick

    Hi, can the parent be charged with kidnapping by the other parent while the custody over the child is still in dispute? Thanks!

    1. Atty. Post author

      Patrick: Even while custody is in dispute, the court usually issues a temporary order of custody in favor of the mother. If this is the case, the failure to return the minor to the mother, which is a violation of a temporary custody order, can be a ground for kidnapping or failure to return a minor, and possibly for direct contempt (for violating a court order).

  4. Lonely father

    The case in my illegitimate child is still going on and the mother is in abroad. I let the Grandparents of the mother borrow the child after they promised to return him and without any legal documents. But they didn’t return the child. Can I sue the grandparents for kidnapping a minor? Even the child is still on a dispute?

    Thanks po

    1. Atty. Post author

      Lonely father: Depending on the current status of your custody case, you may have to refer to the latest court order regarding who takes custody pending the final outcome of your case. I suggest that you ask your lawyer regarding this and if you have a court order in your favor. If you don’t have any and the court specifically placed custody with the child’s mother, which I presume is the current situation, then the child’s mother may later raise the defense that she delegated parental authority to her parents (the grandparents) in this case. Please inform your lawyer about the latest situation of the child not being returned to your home by the grandparents. Depending on your lawyer’s assessment of the situation, he or she may file a manifestation in court regarding the whereabouts of your child and the actions of the grandparents. From there, your lawyer should be able to determine the appropriate action in court. I hope this helps.

  5. mel

    i have an illigetimate child using my surename. my child is living w/ her mother and i can only visit them w/n she brings my child to her tita’s house and i need to arrange my visit in advance cuz they live in a diff house. duon lang kami magkikita sa house ng tita nya. i asked her saan cla nakatira? ayaw nya sbihin except its in makati.

    question 1. is the mother of my child obligated by law to disclose her exact residential address to me since im the father or how can i legally force her to disclose her exact residential address. i want to know her address cuz what if one day hindi na nila ipakita sa akin yng baby. the only address i know of is her tita’s house what if sabihin ng tita na d rin nya alam residential add nila and i know d rin alam ng tita nya. so saan ko cla hahanapin?

    question 2. they know where i live but kung tlanang right nila na wag i disclose sa akin yng exact address nila. right ko rin ba as a father na wag idisclose or sabin sa knila kung saan ko dinanala baby namin pag nasa akin yng baby.

    tnx atty.

    1. Atty. Post author

      Mel: The father of an illegitimate child has limited rights, and the child’s mother may reasonably withhold information if she deems it necessary for the protection of the child. I suggest that you ask her to enter into a formal visitation agreement so that your schedule and right of visitation is laid down in writing and have a lawyer file the appropriate action in court for the approval of the visitation agreement. There is no legal requirement for the mother to disclose the mother’s address although the law requires her to provide reasonable access to her child.

  6. ben

    My wife and I are legally married and have a legitimate son. She recently left our home, my sons regular established residence, and took him with her. She did not leave any notes and left without indication that she would do so and did not ask if she could remove our son from his home and my parental responsibility. What actions if any can I take at this time. My wife and son have a Filipino passport and I do not. I do not know where they are at this time and she has cut off all forms of communication with her and my son. Our home is not in the Philippines and there is indication that she may have returned to the Philippines with him over international borders, but I am not sure as of this moment. I realize that parental child abduction is not recognized as a crime in the Philippines. Would this action constitute child endangerment.

    1. Atty. Post author

      Ben: Existing laws do not criminally define “child endangerment” although we have a law that punishes acts of violence against women and children. If they have moved to the Philippines as you suspect, then you may be able to file a petition for custody and cite specific reasons why it is for the child’s best interest to be under your custody. If the child is under 7, then Philippine laws currently give preference to the child’s mother when it comes to child custody. You may, however, through your lawyer prove that there are compelling reasons why the mother should be deprived of custody. If she did not leave any note, I suggest that you ascertain their whereabouts first to ensure that nothing untoward happened to them.

  7. LUISITO

    good day atty. i have a situation where the mother of my illegitimate minor eigth (8) yr old boy who was in japan for 7 yrs now wanted to take custody. She has not sending support for my son. . I have been the custodial parent since the child was born. I dont have a regular job but depends sometimes in my brothers income in case i dont have means. Can she be deprived of custody considering that she has no job but has maried a japanese there to earn a living? Can i raise the defense of being a custodial father considering that the child was with me since his birth? And i earn less but was able to raise my child? What are my options in case she returns and ask for our child since i cannot just simply give it to her.

    1. Atty. Post author

      Luisito: The mother of an illegitimate child generally has the right of sole parental authority over her child. She may not be employed but if she is able to support the child sufficiently, then that may not be compelling reason to deprive her of custody if she insists on taking the child back. I suggest that you ensure that the child’s birth certificate shows that you acknowledge paternity and then ask her when she returns to the Philippines to consider an arrangement where she can spend vacation time with your child so as not to disrupt the life that he has already adjusted to without her. It’s the most that you can do, given that the law favors the mother when the child is illegitimate. If you both fail to agree on the child’s custody, you’ll most likely end up in court, and given your statement about your financial situation, I’m not sure that that is going to be a good option for you.

  8. aircorwin

    Thanks for the great infos. I have a question, which I hope you can answer. I have been separated from my wife for more than five years now, and the kids are in my custody since she left for the US in 2009. She has since obtained a decree of separation from the state of Colorado, which allowed her to marry a US citizen in 2011. She returned to the Philippines with her “new husband” (who is a former US judge) summer of last year to ask for my permission to allow our two kids to “visit” the US for a “few” months. I did not give my permission because I felt they intended to make the kids live in the US. She went back to the US but is now again in the country and while here, the kids are staying with her. I do not want to forbid the kids to stay with her because I know they also miss her, but I’m afraid she might spirit them out of the country without my permission or knowledge (I know of similar cases). What are the steps that I can do to prevent this from happening? Do I need to file a custody case before I can request a watchlist order from the DOJ? Can I file an abandonment case also?

    1. Atty. Post author

      Aircorwin: Try applying for their passports and keep them with you. Also, consider filing a case for nullity of marriage and seek advice from a psychologist who specializes in psychological incapacity to determine if you have a ground. Your request for custody can be joined in the same case for nullity. If the children are under 7 years old, then the mother may most likely be given custody. I suggest discussing her future plans to see if she really intends to take the children with her. If so, you’ll have to negotiate for shared times or a visitation in your favor. I hope this helps.

  9. daphne

    I have a son (1yr and 8mos). His father and I were never married. However I allow the father to borrow our son every weekends. I recently learned that his dad is a drug addict. I am now worried about the safety and development of our son. I have thought of not allowing him to take our son every weekend, but I fear he’d react in a negative way. What do I need to do, I also fear he might take my son away with him without my permission. Please advise. Thank you

    1. Atty. Post author

      Daphne: That is a tough situation. While the court will readily say that you have sole custody and parental authority, the reality is– the child’s father may not respect the law on this matter. I’ve seen fathers who even taunt the mothers about their drug addiction, going as far as to create false stories about the mother just to muddle the issues in court. But you have to be firm about your child’s exposure because growing up in that environment will later on rub off on him. The influence is going to be gradual– I know this because I’ve fought for a similar case in the past where the father used drugs in the presence of his children. Sadly, the family court took the father’s side after he supposedly presented a drug test with negative results. Years after, I learned that some of his older sons also started using drugs allegedly supplied by their own dad! So– to answer your question, you will have to make it clear to the child’s father that you will not allow your child to grow up with him that way. He can use drugs but NOT in your child’s presence. If he refuses to listen (which is most likely), then you’ll just have to take legal remedies against it. Try talking to the women’s desk in the nearest police station and ask how they would approach this situation without any risk to the child. But really– you have sole parental authority, you can legally prevent him from seeing the child if you have solid proof of his drug use. I hope this helps.

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