Breaking up with a co-parent is always hard, even if you never married each other. Typically, both parents feel they deserve unrestricted access to their children. When a court disagrees and gives a larger custody share to one parent over the other, it often leads to increased disharmony.
In severe child custody conflicts, the parent that feels mistreated may decide to take the child away to another state or country. In California, the unlawful taking or removal of a child is a crime.
Are there any warning signs before an abduction?
In most situations, an approaching parental abduction comes with clues. For example, if they often threaten to take the child, consider it a warning sign. Other possible warning signs include:
- Seeking residence in another state
- Pursuing citizenship in another country
- Creating strong ties to other states or nations
- Severing local ties (sells their home, quits their job, etc.)
Sometimes, a parent planning to take a child may suddenly become cooperative, peaceful and less prone to outbursts. Sometimes, this indicates they may have a plan and no longer feel the need to fight with you.
How can you prevent parental abduction?
If possible, you may reduce the risk of abduction by cooperating with your ex (modifying custody orders, etc.). However, if the co-parent has a mental disorder or is sociopathic, such attempts may fail.
Practical prevention tips to consider:
- Respect co-parent’s child access rights (which deters escalation)
- Record and report abduction threats (which supports your claims)
- Add abduction preventions to your child custody order (which deters abduction)
- Maintain relations with co-parent’s family (which can provide inside information and help)
- Give copies of child custody orders to schools, daycare, etc. (which increases abduction difficulty)
Your legal advocate can be an excellent source of support if you fear parental abduction or it has already happened. Together, you can explore the California child custody laws and family law legal code to find a safe solution.