“I am worried that my ex-husband will abduct the kids and flee when he has access. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?”
You may ask the court to include preventative measures in your initial custody orders or request that the court modify existing custody orders. California Family Code section 3048 provides the statutory framework for such orders. To assist the court in determining whether your concerns have merit, you must provide the court with evidence supporting your claim of 1) a risk of abduction (e.g., previous abduction or concealment; threatened abduction; lack of strong ties to California; familial, emotional, cultural, or financial ties to another state or country; and planning activities); 2) the obstacles to location, recovery and return of your children if abducted (that is, how difficult and how expensive would it be to you to recover your children?); and 3) the harm to your children if abducted. Preventative measures may include supervised visitation; travel restrictions; relocation restrictions; surrender of passports; a bond requirement sufficient to deter abduction or pay for recovery efforts; registration of California orders in the other state or securing identical orders in the foreign country; notification to the embassy or consulate of these orders; and authorization of the assistance of law enforcement. If the risk of abduction is imminent, you may seek these orders on an emergency basis, without advance notice to your former spouse.
For a comprehensive overview of international child abduction issues, the Department of Justice’s handbook, A Family Resource Guide on International Parental Kidnapping, is available for free download at www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/215476.pdf.
Pauline Rosen is a divorce attorney and the founder of the Law and Mediation Offices of Pauline Rosen, located in the South Bay (Los Angeles), providing compelling, competent advocacy with compassionate client-centered legal services, including family law, collaborative law, and mediation. She is the recipient of the American Jurisprudence Award in Ethics, Counseling, and Negotiation and in Criminal Procedure and is listed in Who’s Who (1999).