Child custody disputes between a divorcing or divorced couple with children can sometimes get bitter. Some parents may have legitimate concerns that the other parent may take the child out of the country or abduct the child. This is indeed an issue of concern, but the good news is that parents can work to prevent child abduction in child custody cases by the following tips provided by the U.S. Department of State.

During divorce proceeding for couples with children, it is very important to draft a detailed custody order to ensure that parental rights are protected. This can be done by avoiding generic language and vague language. Specificity in the custody order matters – leave no doubt. For instance, it is important to specifically state the times, start and end dates of visits the child will have with other parent. A means of contacting each other in the event there is any deviation for the intended and agreed upon visitation schedule should be noted in the order.

Additionally, if one or both parents fear relocation by the other parent, a specific section on relocation restrictions in the custody order should be considered. This could include a statement that neither parent can take the child out of the state they reside in and exercise parenting time in, or take the child out of the country without a judge’s approval. Since leaving or entering the U.S. requires a passport, and if there is concern that a parent may take the child out of the country, a provision to have a neutral third party hold onto the child’s passport or for the court to hold it should be considered.

It is important to be vigilant about changes in the other parent’s lifestyle, and if any threats to take the child out the country or state have been made to take them seriously. In some cases supervised visitations may be an option and a petition to modify parenting time may have to be filed.

Source: U.S. Department of State, “Tips on Preventing a Parental Abduction,” Accessed March 23, 2015