Are You Worried About Potential Kidnapping By Your Former Spouse?
A contentious divorce can become truly frightening when you fear for the safety of your children. While relatively uncommon, the possibility of parental kidnapping is a very real danger that some parents live with every day. If you are struggling with the possibility—or the reality—of having a former spouse disappear with your children, you need aggressive, targeted legal assistance immediately.
Parental Kidnapping: What is it?
While it’s not unusual for divorced couples to bicker over custody and visitation issues, kidnapping is certainly the extreme. It’s when one parent takes the child and vanishes, intentionally leaving the remaining parent in the dark as to the health, well-being, and whereabouts of a child. When the child is taken across state lines or out of the country altogether, it can be particularly worrisome. The pain and worry is inconceivable to anyone who has not experienced it.
Warning Signs of a Possible Problem
The Justice Department has created a profile to identify potential abductors. Once a credible threat occurs, your antennae should go up if your ex liquidates assets, particularly if they have few emotional or financial ties to the area. Another red flag is when your former spouse has mental health issues related to paranoia or delusions, or if they believe that you have abused or molested the child in some way. Other issues that could cause concern is if your ex has citizenship in another country or if they have some other support group outside the area.
Preventing the Unthinkable
What can parents do to prevent this from ever occurring? While no preparation is 100 percent guaranteed, there are certainly steps a parent can take if abduction is a concern:
- Make sure there are no loopholes in custody/visitation orders;
- Notify police if a threat occurs;
- Teach children who are old enough how and when to call home or 911;
- Make sure schools, daycare facilities, etc. are aware of the custody orders and instruct them to notify you if your ex show up at any time;
- Keep information about your ex on hand, such as current photos, Social Security number, contact information, license plate, and so forth;
- Keep the kids’ passports in your possession and have them flagged if both parents haven’t provided permission for travel;
- Seek protections afforded under the Child Abduction Protection Act.
When the Worst Occurs
If someone intentionally abducts a child, there are legal consequences as per Florida Statute Chapter 787. In addition to losing future custody and/or visitation, if a person is found guilty of parental kidnapping they could face five years behind bars, another five on probation, and $5,000 in fines. This is a Third Degree Felony in the state of Florida, and the courts do not look kindly on it.
If You Need Help Today
The experienced Boca Raton family law attorneys at WiseLieberman are prepared to aggressively pursue any legal means necessary to protect you and your children from the devastation of parental kidnapping. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.