If you are afraid that the other parent will take your children away without your consent, you need to take action immediately. You should meet with an attorney to see if you might be able to ask the judge to issue an emergency temporary restraining order. This type of court order will ensure that you have recourse if the other parent takes the child without your consent. The order may include that the other parent cannot take the children out of the state, or that the other parent may only have supervised visitation.
If you are in the middle of a custody case, and you fear that the other parent may take your child to another country, you may be able to ask the judge to seize the child's passport. If there is no ongoing case, you may be forced to file the earlier mentioned temporary restraining order, if you qualify, and ask the judge to hold the child's passport as part of that case.
If the child does not have a passport but you fear the other parent may apply for one for the child, the State Department has a program called the Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program. The program is explained as follows:
"The Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) is one of the Department’s most important tools for preventing international parental child abduction. The program allows parents to register their U.S. citizen children under the age of 18 in the Department’s Passport Lookout System. If a passport application is submitted for a child who is registered in CPIAP, the Department contacts and alerts the parent or parents. The passport lookout system gives all U.S. passport agencies as well as U.S. embassies and consulates abroad an alert on a child’s name if a parent or guardian registers an objection to passport issuance for his or her child. This procedure provides parents advance warning of possible plans for international travel with the child."See the State Department's Child Abduction Prevention page for more information.
You should take note, that if your child has dual citizenship, then s/he may be able to travel out of the country on the passport issued by the foreign country. The State Department cannot regulate passports from a different country, so you may want to contact that country's embassy or consulate to ask if they have a similar program. You will find contact information for embassies and consulates at www.travel.state.gov under Country Specific Information on the top right-hand corner of the screen.
If you or someone you know is going through a situation involving the potential for child abduction and simply want to implement the necessary precautions, contact an attorney today. Don't wait until it's too late!