Kidnapping by Parent: Prevention Measures and Child Abduction Law
Colorado’s Child Prevention Abduction Act defines child abduction as the wrongful removal or wrongful retention of any minor child that violates the rights of custody or court-ordered rights of anyone to the allocation of parental responsibility, custody or parenting time. Anyone can violate these rights, including a parent. And anyone with visitation rights to the minor child may seek to prevent abduction or removal of the minor child, including a grandparent. Contact one of our Fort Collins child custody attorneys to discuss emergency custody in Colorado.
Important and Immediate Steps
If you believe your child may be abducted or that an imminent threat of abduction exists, there are important steps you must take quickly. Call law enforcement and inform them of your concerns. State and Federal Laws have been enacted which aim to protect children from abduction. The first step when the threat of abduction exists is to file a Petition with the Court to implement Child Abduction Prevention Measures. Upon the filing of that Petition the Court will act swiftly to hold an emergency hearing and assess whether a credible threat exists and whether abduction prevention measures should be implemented immediately.
Because child abduction is recognized as a form of child abuse, if a Court finds evidence of a credible and imminent threat of abduction that violates parental rights or an existing Court Order, such a threat of imminent abuse could empower a Colorado Court to exercise temporary jurisdiction over a child not resident to Colorado. Such emergency jurisdiction would allow the Court to implement child abduction prevention measures until the proper Court can exercise jurisdiction and address the threat of abduction.
Factors the Court Considers
The Court must examine numerous factors, both past and present, to determine whether a threat of abduction exists. Such factors may include, among others, any history of domestic violence among the parties as well as prior adherence to or violation of Court Orders regarding custody and parenting time. Other compelling evidence includes the potential abductor quitting a job, closing bank accounts, or filing for a passport. Courts also look to the age of the child and the difficulties in returning the child to its home jurisdiction if the child is abducted. These factors are further complicated when the alleged abductor has strong ties to another country or the threat of abduction involves the child’s transference to a country not a signatory to the Hague Convention which aims to protect children from abduction to foreign countries.
Orders the Court May Issue to Prevent Child Abduction
In the event that the evidence presented demonstrates a credible threat of abduction, the Court can enters Orders immediately imposing travel restrictions, changes to decision making and parenting time rights, and other more urgent measures to prevent an imminent abduction or one currently in process. When appropriate, such measures may even include a warrant issued by the Court to take custody of the child from their alleged abductor. The Court is especially inclined to take extreme measures when the potential for child endangerment is imminent.
If you have concerns that your child may be a victim of abduction, do not delay. Contact law enforcement and one of Fort Collins Family Law Attorney immediately to put measures in place for the protection of your child.