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 the plane.
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 Margulis for all of your divorce and family law needs.
 National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; according to a supervisor in the Center's missing children division.