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.