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Preventing Parental Child Abduction

There are many issues to consider with regard to preventing your child from being abducted by their other parent. When one parent abducts their child from the other parent, it is often in the context of a divorce action or separation, and it stems from a deteriorating or volatile relationship between the parents.
Accordingly, first and foremost, where possible, try to maintain a civil and conciliatory relationship with your former partner. Trying to limit access, without cause, or creating undue conflict can provoke drastic reactions that may ultimately harm your child. Remember that where possible, it is in the child’s best interest to have healthy relationships with both of their parents. 1

Do not ignore threats of abduction or harm, or stalking behaviour. Consult with police and a lawyer.

The following are general suggestions to help improve your relationship with your ex-spouse or ex-partner:

  • Make every attempt to maintain a civil relationship with your ex-partner. Reducing the tension surrounding a breakup may reduce the risk of parental child abduction significantly.

  • Even though you have broken up, it may be beneficial to engage in counselling or mediation to improve the parental relationship.

  • Remember that the two of you should be unified in your goal of raising a safe, healthy, happy child.

If you are struggling with ways to manage a controlling or hostile ex-partner, seek professional help and/or advice.

Recognizing that a working relationship with your ex-partner is not always possible, there are other steps you may take. Please see the above links on custody, access, and preparation.

1 For one judge’s account of the family justice system that includes practical advice to help families work together following separation or divorce, see the Honourable Justice Mr. Harvey Brownstone, Tug of War: A Judge’s Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles, And the Bitter Realities of Family Court (ECW Press , Toronto, 2009).

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