In 1980, many countries, including the United States, entered into the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Treaty. Under this multilateral treaty, countries agreed to a legal framework to protect children from being taken from their home country to another country illegally. Each country has their own Central Authority to help their citizens protect their children. In the United States, our CA is the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues, and they recently put out guidance for parents if they think the co-parent is about to take their child out of the country.
The first steps
First, if there is reason to believe that the child is about to be abducted, contact the OOCI’s Prevention Branch. They are available every day, all day at: 1-888-407-4747, and via e-mail at: [email protected]
The best way to stop the co-parent from abducting the child is taking away their ability to do the abduction in the first place. This can take a few forms. Sole custody and supervised visitation solve this issue, but unless there are extreme circumstances, this is not a likely outcome. Though, even getting an order that prohibits international travel will empower law enforcement to stop the abduction. Court orders can even prohibit travel outside of the court’s immediate jurisdiction, which will also help police stop an abduction.
Contact the police to let them know of the potential for an international parental child abduction. They will want some proof of a court order that prohibits such travel, though. Ask that they enter the child’s information into the National Crime Information Center as soon as possible. This will put the child’s information into a national database, and keep the officer’s full name and contact information, along with any other backup officer working the abduction case.
Airport police and airlines
Finally, contact the airport law enforcement department and airlines at the nearest Ann Arbor, Michigan, airport. Remember, the United States does not stop people from leaving, unless there is some reason. An abduction can, therefore, only be stopped if the appropriate authorities know to stop it and proactively do it. When speaking to the airline’s customer care, ask for their corporate security officer and explain the situation. They will likely want some proof of a parental relationship, and maybe even a court order barring international travel too.