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How Can I Protect My Child Against My Ex Fleeing the Country?

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If your ex is a foreign national who now has joint custody or visitation with your child, you may have serious concerns that he or she could flee the country with your child. Once that happens, recovering your child is a complex and expensive process. You get little help from the U.S. State Department, and the Hague Abduction Convention is only available to you if the host country is one of the 73 signatory nations. Eventually, you might get your child back, but the heart-wrenching fight can ruin you financially. This is definitely a situation where an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure, so here are preventative steps you can take:

  • Have the court restrict international travel in your custody order — A court order empowers law enforcement to stop a child from leaving the country with a U.S. or foreign passport.
  • Enroll your child in the U.S. State Department’s Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) — Once you enroll your child in this program, a passport application your ex files will raise a red flag, and the State Department must verify that parental consent requirements have been met. That means that you and your ex must have appeared in person with the child to provide consent before a passport was issued.
  • Watch for warning signs — If your ex quits a job or sells a residence, consult with your attorney about getting temporary restrictions placed on visitation or custody.
  • Contact the embassy of your ex’s country of origin — Your child may have dual citizenship and may be eligible for a passport from your ex’s home country. Contact the local embassy to see if your ex has applied on behalf of your child.
  • Lock up your child’s passport — The State Department will not rescind a U.S. passport that’s been issued, so if your child already has one, you’ve got to take possession of it and place it under lock and key. If your ex has the child’s passport issued by the U.S. or a foreign embassy, you can get a court order compelling your ex to surrender the passport to you. When you get it, put it in a bank safe deposit box that only you can access.

Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. advises clients on all aspects of child custody law. As Long Island’s largest and busiest divorce and family law firm, we fight aggressively for parental rights.

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