This, of course, is parent’s worst nightmare. Before you panic, remember that the law is on your side and that you have every right to reach out to law enforcement for help resolving the situation. The Polly Klaas Foundation is also here to support you and help search for your child.
For custodial parents sharing their child with the non-custodial parents, here are some warning signs to be aware of before a non-custodial parental abduction occurs.
Has / is the non-custodial parent:
- Threatened abduction or actually abducted the child in the past?
- Suspected of abuse, and these suspicions are supported by family and friend?
- Paranoid delusional or sociopathic?
- A citizen of another country and is ending a mixed-culture marriage?
- Feels alienated from the legal system, and has family/social support in another community?
- Has no strong ties to the child’s home state?
- Has no job, is able to work anywhere, and is not financially tied to the area?
- Is planning to quit a job, sell a home, closing bank accounts, applying for passports, obtaining school or medical records?
If your non-custodial parent has exhibited any of these signs, you may want to arrange to pick up or drop off your child at a Family Law Center, or local Police Department so that the non-custodial parent understands that you have these resources available to you in the event they decide not to return your child as pre-arranged.
You may also want to instruct your non-custodial parent to meet you in a public place, pizzeria, movies, or public-park where they can spend time with our child and you can keep a casual eye on them.
If the worst case scenario occurs and the non-custodial parent does not return your child on the agreed upon date and place, try not to panic. First contact the non-custodial parent and make sure there was no misunderstanding about the time and place for your child to be returned to you.
If it appears the failure to return your child is intentional, call your local law enforcement immediately to file a missing persons report, then call the Polly Klaas Foundation at 800-587-HELP and we will open a missing child case and help you to find your child. 97 % of the children who are reported missing to the Polly Klaas Foundation are found. This is a very good statistic, but of course no one feels better until their child is returned safely to them. We can help support you through this difficult time.
Please do not be alarmed by the serious nature of this particular blog. The holidays can feel tense when sharing custody with the “other” parent. Most of the time everything goes smoothly. These are simply some warning signs to be aware of, and actions to take in the event you encounter a problem.
We wish you and your entire family safe, happy and peaceful holiday!