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Indicators of Risk for Parental Child Abduction

There are many indicators that could suggest a parent is planning an abduction. Below is a list of indicators, but remember, the presence of one or more indicators does not mean that parental child abduction will occur, and the absence of one or more indicators does not mean parental child abduction will not occur. You must always use common sense when assessing risk, keeping in mind what you know about your ex-partner, your child, and your relationship. Keeping this in mind, the following are some factors common to parental abductions to consider when assessing risk:

  • Your ex-partner has previously abducted your child.

  • Direct or indirect threats have been made in the past about removal of your child.

  • Your ex-partner has made direct/indirect threats of harm to you, your child, or themselves.

  • Your ex-partner has a history of controlling and/or violent behaviour.

  • Your ex-partner shows high levels of hostility, anger or resentment towards you or your family.

  • You and the other parent fight a lot, particularly regarding custody/access/parenting.

  • Your ex-partner has family or other connections in another country and may have an interest in returning.

  • Your child has made comments that concern you such as, “Dad/Mom says we’re going to go live somewhere warm,” or “Mom/Dad says we’re going to be moving soon.”

  • Your ex-partner has made significant life changes including quitting a job, or selling a home.

  • Your ex-partner has no job, could work anywhere, or is financially independent – in other words, is not tied to the area for financial reasons.

  • Your ex-partner continually raises unreasonable concerns about your child’s safety and well-being while in your care.

  • There has been a family court decision that your ex-partner is angry about.

Note: Emotions may run high for the period immediately after such a decision and may increase the risk of parental abduction.

  • Your ex-partner has terminated a lease, closed bank accounts, liquidated assets, hid or destroyed documents, applied for a passport and/or visa, applied for birth certificates, applied for school or medical records, purchased airline tickets for your child, or altered their appearance.

  • Your ex-partner starts displaying stalking/harassing and obsessive behaviour (for example showing up at school or lessons, constant phone calls/text messages or other online communications, etc.)


  • Ignore direct or indirect threats of removal of your child by the child’s other parent.
  • Ignore direct or indirect threats made by your ex-partner of harm to your child, yourself, or themselves.

Consult with police and tell your lawyer! When speaking to police, do not minimize any risk you feel exists.

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