Avoiding Child Abductions By A Spouse

Unfortunately, child abductions are one parent’s way of trying to gain a tactical advantage over the other parent in a custody battle. This applies especially to international abductions.

Abducting a child before a custody order is made means that the parent who’s taking the child out of the country doesn’t have the consent of the other parent. This consent is required, but without a custody order being filed with Immigration and Citizenship Canada, sometimes the Canadian border service agents don’t actually ask for that consent. In some situations we see people taking their children out of the country because they have a fear for the child’s or their own safety at the hands of the other parent. But unfortunately, more often than not, people do this to gain some kind of procedural advantage. They simply scoop the child out from under the other parent’s nose and leave them with few options.

Obtaining a custody order is the best way for a parent to prevent an abduction. Unfortunately, sometimes the parent doesn’t realize he or she needs a custody order until the threat has already presented itself. If a client comes to us with a suspicion that the spouse is going to leave the country with their child, we first go to the court to get a custody order. A person should alert the police that they think the spouse may be trying to take the child out of the country. They should also notify the RCMP which has a child abduction program. Immigration and Citizenship Canada can flag the child’s name so that when the parent comes across the border with their children, they will immediately be spotted.

All these strategies can be helpful, but it’s sometimes difficult to obtain the involvement or the help of the police without a custody order. You have to be the custodial parent. One very simple way to try to avoid this situation is keep the child’s passport in your possession, and not leave it with the other parent. Again, it is important to note that you must be the custodial parent, because you cannot access passport control without a custody order from the court.

If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with family law issues in York Region, Durham Region or Toronto, contact Feldstein Family Law Group for a consultation.

This article is taken from a July 31, 2008 interview with Andrew Feldstein, Family Lawyer with Feldstein Family Law Group, a Toronto Ontario Family Law Firm. Note that laws vary from province to province. Please consult with a lawyer in your own area to be sure of the laws and specific issues in your own jurisdiction.