Common Red Flags
According to the American Bar Association, the chances of an international abduction may increase when a parent has:
previously abducted the child or threatened to do so,
no strong ties to the child’s home state,
friends or family living abroad,
a strong support network,
no job, can earn a living almost anywhere, or is financially independent,
recently quit a job, sold a home or terminated a lease
closed a bank account or liquidated other assets,
a history of marital instability or a lack of parental cooperation,
a prior criminal record.
Call the Passport Services Office of Policy and Advisory Services at 1-202-955-0232 for information on preventing your ex from leaving the country with the child. This is what they will tell you:
Send a written request that the child(ren) be placed on a name check system. Send child(ren)'s names, dates and places of birth, plus Social Security Numbers (if you have them), and any other pertinent information (like a physical description), along with your name, address, and a phone number where you can be reached, to Passport Services. Make sure you sign the request. You can FAX the request letter to 1-202-955-0230.
Faxing it is the fastest way to go anyway. Once they receive your request, you will be assigned an investigator. This investigator will call you, to get further details of your situation. One thing that will speed this process along, is to include a copy of your divorce decree or custody orders, that states that neither of you is to remove the child from a state or country (whichever) without the other parent's consent.
After the investigator makes her judgement, he/she will let you know that the passport has been blocked by the name registration system. A few weeks after that, you will get a letter in the mail, with other information from the State Department. This letter from the state department, proves to be another nail for the ex's coffin in District Court Proceedings. If for no other reason, than it shows that you have valid fears and concern for the well being of your and your childs rights.
Remember, it is your child's right to have involvement from both of his/her parents. Although many mothers believe children to be "theirs", most states have passed laws that prove that children are their own people with certain rights. If you stick to this, as a basis for your concerns, you may do well in your court proceedings.
CAUTION: Please note this does not stop foreign nationals from obtaining passports from their own country.
Parents involved in international custody disputes may receive information about the United States passport of a minor from the Department of State, Passport Services - address below. Either parent may request information about their child's U.S. passport. The request must be in writing, and may be sent by mail or by FAX. Provide the child's full name and date and place of birth and the requesting parent's address, phone number and signature.
If a parent fears that a child might be taken abroad by the other parent without the mutual consent of both parents, the child's name can be put in the U.S. passport namecheck system. Then, if an application is received, the requesting parent will be informed before issuance of the passport.
When there is a court order from a court of competent jurisdiction which either grants a parent sole custody, or which, in effect, forbids the child's travel without the consent of both parents or the court, and the order is provided to Passport Services, a U.S. passport may be denied.
Passport information may NOT be provided about the other parent.
Requests and, if relevant, court orders should be sent to:
This process does not apply to foreign passports. A child who has or may have the citizenship of another country (which could happen if one parent has a foreign nationality) may be eligible to hold, or be included in, a foreign passport in addition to a U.S. passport. The concerned parent may contact the embassy of the other nationality for information and assistance.
If your child is abducted:
Insist that a missing person's report be posted immediately on National Crime Information Center and Interpol computers. Many local police departments will mistakenly tell parents that they need to see a final custody order before issuing a missing child report or that a waiting period is required, but this is no longer true. Such delays are prohibited by the National Child Search Assistance Act (P.L. 101-647; 42 U.S.C. 5779, 5780), which requires law enforcement to immediately enter a missing child report into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
Contact the local FBI office. If the FBI tells you that you first need a state warrant, point out that the 1993 International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act ended that requirement.
Ask the state prosecutor or district attorney to request the local U.S. attorney's to issue a federal Unauthorized Flight to Avoid Prosecution (UFAP) arrest warrant. The Federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980 provides for the issuance of this warrant.
Call the State Department's Office of Children's Issues (1-202-736-7000), and request the booklet, "International Parental Child Abduction". The booklet outlines what you should do and what the office can do for you.
If you have to to litigate the matter in a foreign country, contact the State Department's office of the Overseas Citzens' Services of the Bureau of Consular Affairs for a list of attorneys available for such cases.