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The warning signs of parental abduction

You've heard of bitter divorces, but absolutely nothing prepared you for how bad your own divorce would be. Your spouse's reaction was unlike anything you'd ever seen before. At this point, you're no longer sure you ever knew your spouse at all -- and you definitely don't know how far they're willing to go just to hurt you.

That makes sharing custody very difficult. Every time you have to hand the kids over to their other parent for visitation, you're worried that your spouse will suddenly take off with them to parts unknown.

It's a valid fear. Every 40 seconds, a child in the United States goes missing and 49% of abductions are perpetrated by family members, like a noncustodial parent. Here's how to spot the warning signs that it could happen to your child:

  1. You're already in a custody battle or otherwise arguing about visitation with your ex or your ex's family. That's automatically a red flag.
  2. Your ex or their family members have already threatened abduction in the past or has made threats again recently.
  3. Your ex or their family members portray you as an abusive, negligent parent to anyone who listens (and may even believe their own allegations).
  4. Your ex or their family clearly feels mistreated by the court and thinks the judge is being unfair to them due to restricted visitation, limited custody or some other reason.
  5. Your ex or their family has strong ties in another country or to another culture in which you could easily be portrayed as the "bad" parent.
  6. Your ex or their family members have the financial means to move, start over and build a sustainable life elsewhere rather easily.

Parental abductions can happen within the states and internationally. If you think your child is at risk, learn more about the steps you can take now that will protect your bond with your children and keep them where they belong.

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