The Harris Law Firm in Denver Warns of Parental Child Abductions

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Protect yourself and your child from the potential dangers of parental child abduction.

With statistics like these, parents need to know how to protect themselves and their children from abduction by the other parent

With nearly 1 million divorces every year nationwide, 10 million children are living with a single parent who is separated or divorced. Divorce and separation bring with them, custody issues and the potential risk of parental child abduction. One in seven divorces involves child custody battles, and more than 350,000 family abductions occur in the U.S. each year - that is nearly 1,000 per day.

"With statistics like these, parents need to know how to protect themselves and their children from abduction by the other parent," says Rich Harris, president of The Harris Law Firm in Denver, Colorado. "Just because the child is with a parent doesn't mean that these situations are not harmful to the child."

A custodial abduction occurs when a child is removed from the home jurisdiction in violation of an existing custody order. In the absence of an existing order, there can be no custodial abduction and either parent is within his or her right to take the child anywhere they choose.

The practical effect of this definition of custodial abduction is that parties seeking to prevent abduction must file to obtain a custody order before any legal action can be taken. If a parent takes a child against the other parent's wishes before the entry of an order, it does not meet the definition of abduction, and the remedies available to a parent are limited.

"Due to the highly emotional nature associated with family law matters, separated or divorced parents need to take precautionary measures to prevent this from happening to their child," said Harris.    

Separated or divorced parents should consider the following safety measures to help prevent possible parental child abduction:

  •     Retain originals of your child's birth certificate, and passport if applicable
  •     Maintain current photographs of your child that can be easily distributed via manual and electronic means
  •     Keep an updated written description of your child that includes hair and eye color, height, weight, date of birth and other identifying information such as glasses, contacts, braces, birthmarks, tattoos and/or piercings
  •     Have your local law-enforcement agency fingerprint your child
  •     Provide written instructions to your child's school, day care center, doctor's office, and other agencies associated with your child, not to release your child or information about your child to unauthorized sources
  •     Teach young children to spell their full name and memorize their home street address, city and state, and telephone number, with area code
  •     Show young children how to use the telephone (landline, cell phone, pay phone) to make a collect call, reach the operator, and dial 911

Harris also recommends that the primary custodial parent obtain a court order that clearly defines parenting time arrangements. The order should specify the exact times and locations for the visitation and the exchange, and require the written consent of the Court or the custodial parent, before the non-custodial parent can take the child out of the area.

Parental child abduction can be a long and painful process for the child and for the parent who has been left behind, with some cases taking up to two years or longer to resolve.

"When parents and children learn together how these parental child kidnappings occur, they can reduce the chances of it happening to them," said Harris.

Paying close attention to safety measures is important when dealing with the possibility of a parental kidnapping. Being proactive may help prevent this situation from happening to you.

About The Harris Law Firm
Established in 1993, The Harris Law Firm is one of Denver's largest family law firms and employs a team of 11 skilled attorneys. In 2007, for the second consecutive year, founding partner Richard A. Harris was named a Colorado Super Lawyer of the Year. Super Lawyers are considered leading attorneys in the area of law in which they practice, and are selected via a survey of the state's top lawyers by Law & Politics Magazine.    

In addition to divorce and child custody and support issues in Colorado, The Harris Law Firm also handles marital agreements, and issues regarding maintenance, paternity, grandparents' rights, and step-parent adoptions.

For more information on The Harris Law Firm, including articles written by our family law attorneys, please visit our Web site: http://www.harrisfamilylaw.com.

The Harris Law Firm P.C.
1125 17th Street, Suite 1820
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: 303.299.9484
Fax: 303.299.9554
Email: info(at)harrisfamilylaw.com

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