An AMBER alert is the public notification of child abduction in progress. This program originated to aid in the protection of children throughout the United States since 1996. We have all heard the call for help over our cell phones, radios, televisions, and road signs, asking for residents in a community to assist in searching for an abducted child. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement defines kidnapping/abduction as the unlawful seizure, transportation, and detention of a person against his/her will, or a minor without his/her custodial parent or legal guardian.
In child abduction, it is far more likely for a non-custodial parent to be the perpetrator, rather than a stranger.
Signs and Risk Factors for Potential Parental Child Abduction
The main reason for parental abduction of a child is usually the fear of losing custody or visitation rights due to a volatile relationship with the custodial parent. Many parents that abduct a child have histories of violence, substance abuse, or a criminal record. A parent with poor impulse control may abduct their child to punish the other parent, or they may believe they are protecting the child from the abuse or neglect of the custodial parent. There are cases where a parent believes that abducting a child will force reconciliation with the other parent.
If a parent appears to be relocating, seeking the child’s birth certificate or school and medical records, leaving a job, or applying for passports, these may be signs of a potential abduction. Threats of kidnapping or a history of abduction should be taken very seriously, especially if the parent is a citizen of another country.
At the Law Offices of Frank P. Remsen, P.A., We strive to Protect what Matters to you most… Your Children.
As an experienced family law and criminal defense law firm, we believe in being proactive, stopping abductions before they occur. With evidence of a potential abduction, an injunction can terminate a parent’s visitation and custody rights. There may be court-ordered supervised visitation until contentious issues between the parents can be resolved. A court order can require that the child’s passport be surrendered, or, if the child does not yet have a passport, the name of the child can be added to the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP). This program enables the Department of State to contact the parent or parents of the registered child to verify consent when an application for a passport has been submitted. The State Department, however, has no control over the issuance of foreign passports, so parents of children with dual citizenship should contact that country’s embassy or consulate and ask about parental consent requirements specific to that country.
We also recommend that parents immediately notify schools, medical offices, daycares, and babysitters of limitations or changes in custody and visitation orders. Parents should maintain a current written description of their child and have recent photographs and fingerprints available.
If a child is physically or mentally harmed as a result of abduction, a parent could be convicted of child abuse which could also lead to a loss of custody and visitation rights to that child. If convicted of parental kidnapping, a parent could be found guilty of a first-degree felony with severe penalties.
There are additional Legal Protections in Place for a Child taken out of their Jurisdiction
When a child is taken across state lines, judges from both states can communicate to determine what is in the child’s best interest. This is done through the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. The most difficult cases are those of abducted children that have been taken internationally. Those countries that are part of the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions cooperate with the United States in child abduction cases. Countries that are not a part of this treaty may offer little cooperation or recourse in the return of abducted children.
If you have concerns about your children’s safety, an experienced family law attorney can assist with getting court-ordered protections in place. Alternatively, if you are accused of child abuse or abduction, the Law Offices of Frank P. Remsen, P.A., can help. We are dedicated to providing our clients with quality representation in family law and criminal defense. We understand the impact that a legal issue can have on your future and your family’s future. We have offices in Lake, Seminole, and Orange County, Florida. Call for an appointment for a free consultation at 352-269-8226 or 407-898-8822.