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Tips to prevent international abduction

Pennsylvania parents who have different countries of origin sometimes find themselves afraid a spouse will choose to take the children and return home. Home may be just across the border in Canada, or it may be on the other side of the planet in Africa or Asia. What do intercultural couples need to know to prevent international abductions?

The U.S. Department of State offers tips for prevention, and awareness is a good first step. A spouse should pay attention to his or her partner’s actions, noting any unusual activity that suggests a big move is coming. For example, quitting a job and putting a house on the market on a whim may point to an upcoming relocation. Noting these and other sudden changes can help suspecting spouses read situations more effectively.

Awareness of U.S. laws can also benefit intercultural couples. Being proactive is easier when they know a court order is necessary to prevent their children from travelling outside the U.S. The State Department explains the reasoning behind the requirement: Since the U.S. “does not have exit controls,” minors can travel internationally without the consent of both parents. For police officers to act in the case of a minor relocating with only one parent, a court order must be in place.

Additional tips the State Department provides include the suggestions to:

  • Consult an attorney to help with filing protective orders
  • Contact local law enforcement to let them know about those orders
  • Take immediate action when a child is in danger

If one parent has taken a child and left the country, immediate action may include contacting the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation Task Force. The FBI prioritizes child abductions and uses a multi-agency and multi-disciplinary approach “to reduce the negative impact of domestic and international parental rights disputes.” Circumstances surrounding a dispute help determine the FBI’s unique course of action for each case.

For more information, contact Louis Wm. Martini, attorney at law.