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Understanding parental abduction and Texas child custody laws

Child custody is often one of the most contentious issues in any divorce. Most parents understand that having both parents involved in their child's development is beneficial. Unfortunately, some parents feel as though their spouse's rights regarding their children ended at same time their divorce was finalized. Some of those recently divorced parents may even choose to abduct their children and return to their ancestral homes.

Here in Texas, our close proximity to the border with Mexico means that many Texas couples have cross-border family ties. When a parent takes their children without proper permission across a border that action is known as an international parental child abduction. It is a crime recognized by every state in the Union, including Texas.

If you are worried that your spouse may flee internationally with your children, there are several things you should know. The U.S. Department of State has a bureau that specifically deals with international parental abductions. The Office of Children's Issues is tasked with handling such matters under an international convention signed by many countries. In a nutshell, countries who are signatories to the convention agree to return children who are determined to have been internationally abducted by their parents.

The Office of Children's Issues recommends that parents who suspect their spouse may flee should enroll their children in the Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program. CPIAP is a tool that allows the State Department to notify parents and alert them if a passport application has been submitted for a child previously registered in CPIAP. Passports are required for international travel, even for children.

Enrollment in CPIAP may be too late for some children. A spouse may have already crossed a border with the children. If you are currently facing a situation, you should know that your Texas family law attorney can prove helpful. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your attorney can pursue certain international legal actions that are designed to return your kids to your custody.

Source: U. S. Department of State-Bureau of consular affairs, "International parental child abduction" accessed Feb. 02, 2015

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