Kidnapping Is a Crime

Thousands of children disappear each year and many are abducted by one parent after a bitter divorce, and many custodial parents fear that their former partner may kidnap a child.

Parental kidnapping is a crime. The wrongful removal or retention of a minor child is a breach of the other parent’s custody rights under the laws where the child is a habitual resident.

The victims of parental kidnapping have tools to reclaim these abducted children. The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) requires states to cooperate with each other in returning kidnapped children when the child custody judgments of sister states are compatible with the act.

The Uniform Child Custody and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), a uniform law regarding custody and visitation, is designed to discourage and prevent parental kidnapping, particularly when one parent moves during a divorce.

When the kidnapping crosses international borders, the rightful parent may turn to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Abduction, which established procedures for dealing with international child abduction. This convention is now in force between the United States are some 50 countries.

A good place to start is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which works through the Central Authority of the Hague Convention. NCEMC provides help to individuals, parents, and agencies in located and assisting in the return of missing children. The telephone numbers are 800-843-5678 or 800-826-7653.

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