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A parent's worst nightmare is losing a child, especially to abduction. For better or worse, abductions are not just perpetrated by strangers driving scary vans and luring kids with candy -- sometimes family members abduct a kid or hire someone else to do so.
Knowing this, you wish you could keep your kid by your side at all times. But you cannot. Still, there are steps you can take to prevent tragedy and to ensure that law enforcement can do all that's possible to find your child should the worst occur.
Family Trouble and Child Abduction
If you can tell by the way that things are going between you and your ex, or between you and your ex's family, that your kid's safety may be at risk, you can try to seek a court order before anything bad happens. Whether or not you can obtain an order before anything has happened will depend on your circumstances.
Have threats been made? Is there a particular risk based on who your ex is? For example, if your ex is a foreign national who keeps saying they want to take the kids to their homeland and you suspect this a pretext for a kidnapping, don't wait for the worst. Attempt to get a court order to keep the child in the United States.
What Will a Court Order Do?
While the piece of paper won't physically restrain the child, it creates a context for law enforcement's involvement and makes it easy to arrest a violator of the order even if the person is family. The US Department of State says that a court order is vital to preventing a child's departure. Without one, law enforcement may have no authority to stop a family member departing with a child, particularly a parent.
The court, however, can order that a child remain within its jurisdiction, and even that the kid's passport be held in a particular place by a particular person if necessary. If you do seek a court order, get a lawyer to assist you with the process. You want to gather as much evidence and be as well prepared as possible for any hearing because if it is not granted, you may only inflame an already-angry ex.
Talk to a Lawyer
If you are concerned about your child's safety, speak to a lawyer about getting help with a court order or other possible options to address this issue. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to help with your situation.