By Dillon R. Fulcher, Esq.
Every year 1,800 to 2,000 children are reported missing - of those, about
one quarter are victims of International Parental Abductions.
 This occurs whenever one parent with joint custody attempts to remove
a child from the United States with the intent to obstruct the lawful
exercise of parental rights.
In a recent
news report, a Miss Linda Liu boarded a flight to China with her 4-year-old son, disregarding
the terms of the joint custody agreement with her ex-husband. The agreement
stated that express written and notarized consent of the other parent
was required in advance of international trips. Ms. Liu violated that
agreement, and, as a result, her flight was ordered to return to the United
States and FBI agents were waiting for her at the gate to escort her off
An FBI spokesperson stated that "the mother was taken into custody
on suspicion of committing an international parental kidnapping and the
child was reunited with the father."
Had Mr. Ruifrok, Ms. Liu's ex-husband, not obtained legal counsel to
ensure that his parental rights were explicitly stated, his ex-wife would
have been able to stay in China with his son. It would have been incredibly
difficult for Mr. Ruifrok to have his son returned to the United States
since China does not have an international agreement with our country
to return children who have been abducted by a parent.
While some people may not worry about International Parental Abduction,
it is equally possible for a child to be taken to a far away state, making
it difficult or impossible for you to see or spend time with your child.
Some states have adopted the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (UCAPA)
(including Colorado), which allows courts to issue orders to prevent abductions
if they find that abduction is highly probable. But if you live in a state
that has not adopted these rules, or even if you do, it is important that
you have a precisely written custody agreement that outlines the ability
of your ex-spouse to travel with your child. These express terms will
allow you to obtain a court order to have your child returned to you,
and gives you access to the full power of the judicial and law enforcement
departments of your state.
It is important that if you are confronted with a divorce, or are revisiting
child custody agreements, that you contact a qualified and experienced
attorney who can explicitly set out guidelines for where your ex-spouse
can take your child.
Please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel, LLC for all of your
divorce and family law needs.