Having a child abducted is the worst fear of most parents. When it is a parent committing the abduction the situation presents a variety of challenges, especially when the child is taken to a foreign country. Luckily, a variety of legal requirements and systems are in place to prevent these situations from occurring.
National Efforts to Stop International Child Abduction
The U.S. State Department’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) allows a parent or parents to register a child under 18 in a database that will alert them when a passport application is submitted for that child. If a parent or parents object to the application, all U.S. Embassies and all U.S. passport agencies throughout the world are placed on alert.
This program plays a vital role in preventing not only the international abduction of a child by a stranger, but more commonly the international abduction of a child by a parent without proper child custody.
The State Department’s top official on child abduction says the problem of international parental abduction is very serious. In 2010, only 578 of the more than 1,500 children abducted to foreign countries by a parent were returned to the U.S.
Children are often used as pawns in their parents’ battles, and CPIAP seeks to prevent the worst-case abduction scenario by requiring the consent of both parents before issuing a passport.
Measures Preventing Parental Abduction in Texas
In 2003, Texas passed legislation, which empowers courts with a variety of options if the risk factors of an international parental abduction are present. The options include appointing a conservator to take over the role of the parent presenting the risk, and filing with the State Department court ordered passport and travel restrictions for the child.
A new law taking effect in September will also make such abductions Texas felonies as well.
An Attorney Can Assist
CPIAP and the Texas legislation are valuable tools in protecting children caught in the middle of a contentious relationship between parents, but custody and kidnapping can be complicated matters. If you believe your child is at risk for being abducted by his or her parent, contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss the precautions you can take to protect your child.