Unfortunately, child abduction happens more frequently than many people know. In a national or local context, it can be easier to find the child, even though it could take months. International abduction can be more difficult to solve.
One of the most terrifying experiences parents can face is not knowing where their children are. As an experienced family law attorney, I have successfully worked on abduction cases for families dealing with national and international parental kidnapping situations.
The first thing you need to know is: if there is no court order establishing custody, there is nothing legal to stop either parent from taking the child. In these situations, both parents, married or not, have equal rights to spend time with the child. If you do not have a custody order, get one now.
There are many tools that can help solve an abduction. Some are legal and very complicated. Some are more political, even diplomatic. For example, if you have a custody case pending in Virginia and the other parent takes your child to another state and tries to get a custody order there, there is a statute common to all 50 states that will restore the case here and, depending on the circumstances, penalize the other parent. If your child is taken abroad, the Hague Convention, an international anti-abduction treaty, can help bring your child home.
Under all circumstances, I show the utmost respect for the other jurisdiction’s laws, customs, and law enforcement agencies. It works.
It is crucial to use more than just “legal” tools. Developing contacts with law enforcement agencies, private organizations, even other governments can be important. Examples of steps I take include: