How The California Family Court Can Prevent Parental Abduction
The California family court can issue an order to prevent child abduction by a parent if the court finds sufficient risk of parental abduction. The party may request the order or the court may issue the order on its own initiative. In determining whether or not it is necessary to implement such measures, the court must consider the risk of the child’s abduction; obstacles to location, recovery, and return if the child is abducted; and the potential harm to the child if he or she is abducted.
Roseville divorce attorney Jin Kim represents parents in child custody cases involving parental abduction. To schedule a consultation call her office at (916) 270-6880.
Risk of Child Abduction
The following instances can indicate that there is a high risk of child abduction by a parent:
- When the party has previously taken, enticed away, kept, withheld, or concealed the child in violation of the right of custody or visitation of a person, or whether a party has threatened to do any of the above-mentioned acts.
- When the party lacks strong ties to California.
- When the party has strong familial, emotional, or cultural ties to another state or country, including foreign citizenship.
- When the party has no financial reason to stay in California.
- Has engaged in planning activities that would facilitate the removal of the child from California such as, quitting his or her job, selling his or her primary residence, terminating a lease, closing his or her bank account, liquidating other assets, hiding or destroying documents, applying for a passport, applying to obtain a birth certificate or school or medical record, or purchasing airplane or other travel tickets.
- Has a history of lack of parental cooperation or child abuse.
- When there is substantial evidence that the party has perpetrated domestic violence.
- When the party has a criminal record.
How The Family Court Can Prevent Parental Abduction
When the court has determined that there is a need for preventive measures, the court can choose from several options. The first is to order supervised visitation. The court can also require the parent to post a bond in an amount sufficient to serve as a financial deterrent to abduction. In case the abduction occurs, the proceeds of the bond can be used to offset the cost of the child’s recovery.
The court can also restrict the right of the custodial or non-custodial parent to remove the child from the county, California, or the United States. The right of the parent to relocate with the child can also be restricted by the court. In such an instance, the parent can relocate only by obtaining the written agreement of the non-custodial parent or obtaining the court’s approval.
The court can even require the surrender of the child’s passport and other travel documents, as well as prohibit the parent from applying for a new or replacement passport for the child. The court can also require the parent to notify the relevant foreign consulate or embassy of passport restrictions and to provide the court with proof of that notification.
Foreign Travel Conditions
In cases of foreign visits, the court can obtain assurances that the party will return by requiring the traveling parent to provide the court or the other parent with any of the following:
- The child’s travel itinerary.
- Copies of round-trip airline tickets.
- A list of addresses and telephone numbers where the child can be reached at all times.
- An open airline ticket for the left-behind parent in case the child is not returned
The court can also include provisions in the custody order to facilitate use of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, such as identifying California as the child’s home state, identifying the United States as the child’s country of habitual residence under the Hague Convention and defining custody rights under the Hague Convention.
The court can also authorize the assistance of law enforcement. If the court determines that there is a risk of abduction that is sufficient to warrant the application of one or more preventive measure, the court must inform the parties of the telephone number and address of the Child Abduction Unit in the office of the district attorney in the county where the custody or visitation order is being entered.