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The Heinous Act of Child Abduction in San Diego in 2013
Child abduction, in San Diego and around the United States and in fact the world, is a fact of life which takes place more often than most people are aware of. Going by United States Justice Department reports, about 350,000 children could be victims of abduction every year during a divorce or separation by their parents. This can be within the United States or outside the United States. San Diego poses additional issues since the border to Mexico is so close and a parent can take their child into Mexico and then obtain a passport at the country of choice in Mexico. As such, of course, it is crucial to try and prevent any abduction in the first place. In San Diego, for example, if the Judge finds that one parent is a flight risk, then there are orders which can be made which lessen the chance of abduction: passports surrendered; supervised visitation; bond posting and others.Laws Passed
Laws have been enacted including the Parental Kidnaping Prevention Act (PKPA) and the Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). These have been carefully designed to discourage parental Kidnaping interstate and enforce and implement child custody orders and visitation orders passed by other state courts. These laws through which criminal warrants among other deterrents can be issued are deterrents to child abduction and potential ways of stopping it during a divorce process.Vital Information
But if you are steeped in a messy divorce and are convinced that your spouse might kidnap your child then you need to be on guard and take suitable measures, one of which are to optimize your legal options. Here are some measures you need to take but these are not all inclusive. The San Diego District Attorney’s Office has a child abduction unit specifically to assist parents to recover their children if wrongfully abducted by the other parent. The first step is to get a court order for custody and visitation and a parenting plan which is valid. In this way, if there is a violation of the court order, then enforcement can be sought through the family law court with an order to “pick up and locate” and other enforcement mechanisms. It is also important to establish if there is a flight risk which can include but are not limited to [as below] specific threats but can also include other factors such as quitting employment, cashing in retirements and other accounts, placing the house up for sale, applying for passports and having minimal ties to California or the United States and making plans to move.
- A kidnap threat could be the basis of legal relief which could include protection ordered by the court. Consult your family law attorney on this option.
- Notify babysitters, daycare, and schools of the prevailing threat of abduction by your ex-spouse. Provide them a certified copy of the court order. The recipients should include babysitters, daycare staff, and teachers. Make it clear not to allow your child to leave or associate with an unauthorized person not mentioned in the court order. But be aware, if your falsely accuse your ex, you could be facing legal implications. Consult your family attorney before implementing any such measures.
- Record all problematic events factually. These could be threats from your former spouse. Chronicle these events in detail in a journal which you can produce if needed to your attorney or the police. Make a careful note of dates, times, and locations and the names of witnesses, if any. Record the nature of threat and try to recount the conversation faithfully.
- Note down the names, phone numbers and addresses of all those you know who could be potential abductors of your child. It need not be just your ex but also other relatives, friends, and associates who could side with your ex.
- Take a photograph of your child and make a full description detailing all its physical features including birthmarks and scars through which your child can be identified. Many police departments in San Diego and other official agencies have a free child identification kit.
If you reside in San Diego and are going through a divorce or separation and fear child abduction, Doppelt and Forney, APLC, a family law attorney will provide you with legal advice and assistance. This family law firm offers a free 30-minute virtual consultation which you can avail of and Roy Doppelt has been practicing law in San Diego since 1998.