How can I protect my child from international abduction?

If the other parent of your child is a citizen of another country, or has substantial connections to another country, you may face the concern of international abduction. While there are ways to protect your parental rights once your child has left the United States, it is much easier to make sure your child cannot leave the country in the first place.

Children without passports:
For your children to leave the country, they must first have a passport. If they do not have a passport, it is important to make sure the other parent cannot obtain a passport for them without your knowledge. The United States Department of State has anticipated this problem and has developed a program that may resolve some of your concerns.  The Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program, or CPIAP, is meant as a first line of defense against international child abduction. CPIAP allows a parent to register their child on a government watch list. Once registered, the government will notify you if anyone applies for a passport for your child. After being notified, you will normally have 30 days to consent or object to the passport application. If you object, a passport can only be issued if the other parent can show that they have sole legal custody and have been legally authorized by the court to obtain a passport.

To register your child for CPIAP, you must complete an Entry Request Form, provide proof of your identity, and provide a copy of your child’s birth certificate or proof of your parental/guardianship rights.

For more information, please click the following link:
http://travel.state.gov/abduction/prevention/passportissuance/passportissuance_554.html

Children with passports:
If your child already has a passport, it is important for the passport to be either in your possession, or the custody of the Court’s probation department. If the other parent has your child’s passport and you are concerned about the possibility of international abduction, you need to obtain a temporary order as soon as possible which will require the other parent to turn the passport over to probation and not to take your child outside of the United States.

Even though your child already has a passport, you can still register them for CPIAP. In this situation, the government will notify you if someone files a passport renewal application.

Children taken outside the United States:
If your child has already been taken outside the United States, then it is imperative that you contact us as soon as possible. It may be possible to utilize international laws and treaties, such as the Hague Convention, to assist in obtaining your child’s safe return.

International custody issues are highly technical and sensitive. We will work with you to keep your child in the United States or obtain their safe return if they have already left. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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