When a judge makes an order about child custody and visitation, it becomes a court order and it has the force of law.
It is very important that you:
There are several options:
In case you have to go back to court, you should keep accurate records of all visitation violations. Keep a journal or mark up a calendar, with the dates and times that the other parent did not follow the order and did not show up, or showed up late, or created other problems.
Enforcing a court order can be very complicated. Talk to a lawyer to find out what is best in your case. Click for help finding a lawyer.
The U.S. Department of State has a list of precautions that any parent should take if they are worried about the possibility of child abduction. Here are some precautions from their list:
In addition, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, at telephone number 1-800-843-5678, suggests that you teach your children to use the telephone, memorize your home phone number, and practice making collect calls, and that you instruct them to call home immediately if anything unusual happens. Discuss possible plans of action with your children in the case of abduction.
Most important, if you feel your children are vulnerable to abduction, talk to a lawyer for legal advice. Do not just tell a friend or relative about your fears.
When a child who is a U.S. citizen is kidnapped and taken to another country, the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues works with U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the world to help the child and the parent looking for the child. But even when a child is taken across international borders, child custody disputes are private legal matters between the parents, and the State Department has little or no power.
If your child is at risk of being abducted by the other parent, it is very important that you have a clear custody order that specifies what the other parent can and cannot do in terms of traveling with your child. But even if you have a court order, U.S. laws and court orders are not usually recognized in foreign countries and therefore are not directly enforceable abroad.
Fortunately, the Hague Convention, which has been signed by many countries, is an international treaty that applies to child abductions. The countries that are parties to the convention have agreed that, with a few exceptions, a child who is a resident in 1 country that is a party to the convention and who is removed to another country that is also a party to the convention against a custody and visitation order must be promptly returned to the country of residence. See more information on which countries have signed this agreement.
The Hague Convention and cases of international abduction are very complicated. There is information online to help you, but if you can, talk to a lawyer who has a lot of experience with international abduction cases. Your local District Attorney’s Office may also have a Child Abduction and Recovery Unit that can help you or give you resources in your area.
Here are some websites with very helpful and complete information on child abduction: