Parental kidnapping, also called family abduction, is at an all time high. More than 350,000 family abductions occur each year. That is nearly 1,000 per day. About 163,000 of these cases involve the concealment of a child, transporting out-of-state, or intent to keep the child permanently. Less than 1% of child abductions are by a stranger. Many abductions involve taking the child out of the United States, which is an international abduction.
I recently finished a case of an international abduction. The parents were still married and they were originally from Bosnia. The children were born in the United States and lived here their entire lives. The wife of my client told him she wanted to take the children for a visit to see her family; he agreed and she never returned. That was over a year ago. After a month my client was forced to go to Bosnia to try to get them to return. He was there for several months and had no success. We then filed two cases here in the U.S, one for divorce, in which my client was awarded full custody, and a federal case under the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention is an agreement between participating countries, which gives guidelines in this situation. Unfortunately, even though Bosnia is a participant in the Hague Convention, the government and the legal system are sometimes corrupt. The Bosnian Court refused to follow the orders from the United States. They held their own hearing and awarded custody to the wife/mother. It seems my client has no chance of the children ever returning to the United States. Not all Hague cases turn out this way, some cases are successful, however it is very difficult once a parent removes children from the United States.
The most common abduction case is when a non-custodial parent abducts a child(ren) and stays inside the United States. This is a domestic abduction.
There are some preventative steps that can be taken if you are worried about your children being abducted, along with the basic tips on child safety (see National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (http://www/misingkids.com).
There are also products available for parents who fear a parental abduction. One of the products is called the Amber Alert GPS. It is relatively inexpensive solution that can track indoors and out, has an SOS button to call for help. Children can also send up to five (5) messages for help if needed. You can even track the location of your child on your cellphone. There is a monthly service fee, which varies. For more information go to: http://www.brickhousesecurity.com. There are other types of GPS tracking systems on the market as well. You can see other models on the website listed above.
Another idea is the VeriChip, a microchip the size of a grain of rice that can be implanted in a person’s body. The chip can incorporate a GPS receiver. This type of option has created controversy and criticism from privacy advocates who say the technology opens a new high-tech Pandora’s box.
If your child has been kidnapped, or if you are worried that it is a possibility, click here for a handbook from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children which gives helpful information regarding prevention, suggestions for search and recovery, and guides you through civil and international laws: http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/ResourceServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=467.
If you have any family law questions please contact Bill Godfrey at Bill@ambroselawgroup.com or at (248) 624-5500