Parental Child Abduction:Immediate Steps
If you believe your child has been taken by their other parent/guardian and have concerns that they may be at imminent risk, you should immediately report your child missing to police.
Attempt to get a hold of your child’s other parent/guardian or your child
- Call/text all of their telephone numbers that are available to you
- Document any conversations you have and any messages you receive
- If applicable, note when a complete lack of communication began
Call your local police agency to file a missing person report
In Canada, you do not have to wait to report your child missing — there is no minimum period of time required before reporting to police.
Make sure to tell the police:
Your specific concerns and why you believe it is an abduction versus a custody and access issue
The term parental child abduction refers to when one parent/guardian takes, detains, or conceals a child from the other parent/guardian. If you are unsure of where your situation falls, you can contact MissingKids.ca for more information, or you may need to speak with a lawyer.
- Whether the other parent/guardian has made threats to abduct or harm your child
- Whether the other parent/guardian has a history of violence or mental illness
- Whether your child has any medical condition that requires attention
- Whether your child’s belongings/the other parent’s/guardian’s belongings are gone
- Whether your child is at risk of being taken outside of the province or outside of Canada
- Whether passports are missing
In addition to the above:
- Have your custody order on hand, if applicable (a custody order is not required to report your child missing)
- Have your child’s identification information (e.g., birth certificate, passport) available
- Be prepared to provide a description of your child and the alleged abducting parent/guardian
If your child has been abducted by their other parent/guardian, it is crucial that you do not engage any media without the guidance of law enforcement. This cannot be overstated; depending on the situation, media involvement may increase the risk to your child.
MissingKids.ca caseworkers are here to provide support and assistance in the search for your child. We can help by:
- Providing assistance in navigating the different systems involved (e.g., information about which agencies to contact and how they may be able to assist)
- Liaising with other agencies involved with your child/family and the search (e.g., police, child welfare)
- Connecting the searching parent to appropriate agencies if it is believed the child has been taken outside of Canada (e.g., Global Affairs Canada)
- Providing information and guidance on using social media and other methods to raise awareness about your missing child
- Using our MissingKidsALERT™ public notification system in cases where public notification and assistance has been deemed valuable
- Helping to manage/engage media
- Providing information about how to flag your child’s records (e.g., school records, passport, medical records)
- Connecting your family to appropriate support services
Please note that Missingkids.ca caseworkers are not lawyers and cannot provide legal advice. For more information on parental child abduction and your legal rights, contact a lawyer or a member of law enforcement in your area.
The information provided above is intended for information purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice. Readers should assess all information in light of their own circumstances, the age and maturity level of the child they wish to protect, and any other relevant factors.