Each year hundreds of children fall victim to family abductions. Many believe these children are perfectly safe because they are with a family member; however, nothing could be further from the truth. It is common for the child victims to have their names and appearance altered, to experience medical and physical neglect, unstable schooling, homelessness, and frequent relocation.
These children are often told lies about the abduction and the left-behind parent; even that the left-behind parent is dead. Most of these children live as fugitives: taught not to trust anyone, told to keep secrets about their past; unable to establish relationships with friends; and always on the run from the law. As a result of this form of serious child abuse, many child victims of family abductions experience psychological consequences and emotional distress. Children involved in family abductions are usually taken by the non-custodial parent as an act of revenge against the ex-spouse/custodial parent.
Preventing an Abduction
- Obtain legal custody of your child.
- Specify in the custody order exact times and locations for visitation.
- Ask for special prevention provisions.
- Always keep current information of your child on file.
- Notify schools, daycare centers, and babysitters of custody orders.
- Keep current names and addresses of relatives or friends that the potential abducting parent might travel to.
- Keep on file certified copies of your custody order
- If you have custody papers from a state other then Utah, you MUST file them with the Utah State Courts.
If Your Child is Abducted
- File a missing person report with your local police and request an investigation.
- Request your child be entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center computer. (NCIC)
- If you suspect the child has been taken out of the country, call the U.S. Department of State.
- Contact the state Missing Children’s Clearinghouse.
- Contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.
- Obtain a court order for custody of your child if you do not already have legal custody.
- Contact your State Vital Statistics to have the Child’s Birth Certificate Flagged.
Parental Kidnapping Defined
The term “parental kidnapping” encompasses the taking, retention or concealment of a child by a parent, other family member, or their agent,
in derogation of the custody rights, including visitation rights, of another parent or family member.
Utah code annotated 76-5-303. Custodial Interference
(1) A person, whether a parent or other, is guilty of custodial interference if, without good cause, the actor takes, entices, conceals, or detains a child under the age of 16 from its parent, guardian, or other lawful custodian:
(a) knowing the actor has no legal right to do so; and
(b) with the intent to hold the child for a period substantially longer then the visitation or custody period previously awarded by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Custodial Interference is a class “A” Misdemeanor unless the child is removed and taken from one state to another, in which case it is a felony in the third degree.
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (1968) creates guidelines to avoid jurisdictional competition and conflict with courts of other states in matters of child custody, promote cooperation with the courts of other states, and facilitate the enforcement of custody decrees of other states
Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act
The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (1980) assures that full faith and credit is given to child-custody determinations. States may honor and enforce custody determinations made in other states as long as certain requirements listed by the Act are satisfied
International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act
The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act of 1993 makes it a federal crime to remove a child from the United States or retain a child, who has been in the United States, outside the United States with the intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights.
What Should I Do If I Suspect a Future Problem with a Family Related Abduction?
- Make sure your custody order specifies with whom the child is to reside at specific times, and restricts removal from the state without prior consent from the judge.
- Flag the child’s passport, or ask passport control not to issue one if requested. The U.S. Department of State website has more information on assistance during an International parental abduction.
- Notify schools, day care centers and babysitters of custody orders, give copies to such caretakers and ask to be alerted if the non-custodial parent makes an unscheduled visit to the facility.
- File a certified copy of your custody decree in the non-custodial parent’s home county (state). This notifies the court in that county (state) that a valid decree has already been issued and must be honored. Also consider filing a copy with counties in which non-custodial parent has close friends or relatives.
- Keep lists of information: addresses, phone numbers, social security number, passport number, and birthdays of all relatives and friends of the non-custodial parent.
- Keep current photos of your child updated every four months. Know their current weight and height.
- Keep all information in two separate and secure places.
- More information can be located at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children/s website https://www.missingkids.com