COACHING prepared, take notice.

Consider counseling. As little as 10 hours of intervention can effectively reduce the likelihood of family abduction.

Interstate and International Parental Abduction Support

Gaining Custody

Dawn Willson and her team consults with parents of abducted children and assists in making choices to help bring your child home.

Assistance available with:

                          - gaining custody

                          - locating your child

                          - legal preparation

                          - finding legal representation

                          - and even child recovery when  necessary

Legal Prep & Strategy

How Can I Help Prevent My Child From Being Abducted?

What Should I do if my child is abducted?

When a child is parentally abducted TIME IS NOT ON YOUR SIDE. It is hard to know where to begin.  Parents dealing with the loss of a child go through a number of unexpected emotions. We can help.

Child Recovery

We work with parents in all financial situations to make sure they are using the law to the fullest extent.  We assist by helping guide parents through the steps needed to reunite with their children as quickly as possible.

Please feel free to call us for a free telephone consultation.  We are always available. 

We understand your pain.

Indicators of Risk for Parental Child Abduction

Icebergs, Black Swans, Earth Quakes--unforeseen, earth-shaking events can threaten the life of any country or family. Risk abounds.

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: 

  1. Your ex-partner has previously abducted your child.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  8. 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.”

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

  10. 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.

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

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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.) 

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


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.

Keeping your child safe -- More tips to prevent family abduction

  1. Ask the police or prosecutor to intervene. If a parent threatens to abduct a child, it can help to ask the local police or prosecutor to contact the parent and warn him/her of the criminal consequences.

  2. Notify schools, healthcare providers, day care centers and babysitters of custody orders. Certified copies of custody orders should be on file with the school office and given to teachers, day care providers, babysitters, dentists and pediatricians with instructions not to release your child to anyone else without your permission. You should ask to be contacted immediately if the non-custodial parent attempts to pick up your child without explicit authorization.

  3. Keep lists of identifying information about the other parent and your child, including Social Security numbers, current photographs, license plate numbers and bank and credit card account numbers.

  4. Keep a complete written description of your child, including hair and eye color, height, weight, date of birth, and identifying physical features. Take color photographs of your child every six months. A head and shoulder portrait is best. Consider getting your child fingerprinted. Contact your local police department to find out how this can be done in your area. You, not the police, should retain the prints.

  5. File or register a certified copy of the custody order in the non-custodial parent's state. This notifies the courts that a valid order has been made and must be enforced without modification. Contact your local family court for advice on how to do this.

  6. Obtain a passport for your child and notify the passport office that your child is not to leave the country without your written permission. Learn how to restrict your child's passport through the U.S. Department of State at

To keep your children safe, it is ALSO important that you:

  1. Keep the lines of communication open between you and your children.

  2. Teach your children their full name(s) and your full name. Older children should be able to easily recite their full address, city, state and country, as well as telephone number with area code.

  3. Practice using both a private phone and pay phone, with clear explanation of when to call home, and how to place long distance calls. You should also help them understand how and when to dial 9-1-1 and 0 for Operator, and that these calls are free, even from a pay phone.

AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL is something you can easily do every day:

Be sure that your child knows that you love him/her and if anything should ever separate you that you will do everything you can to be together again. For your child's well-being, this should be conveyed without mentioning, or accusing, the other parent of being a potential threat.

What to Do if...

You Believe Your Child has Been Abducted


The first priority is to locate your child. At this point you may have no idea where your child is, have a general idea where your child is, or know exactly where your child is (but still be unable to talk to them, see them or regain access to them). This knowledge will have a significant impact on how the police and legal system approach your case.


Note: If you do not have any leads about where your child may have been taken, you will likely need to rely upon the information law enforcement is able to learn through its’ investigation, and anything you learn on your own, before you can fully utilize many of the tools described in this section.

Keeping your child safe -- Tips to prevent family abduction

Respect the other parent's custody and visitation rights. Anger, frustration and desperation are leading causes of family abduction.

Attempt to maintain a friendly relationship with your ex-spouse and his/her family. This may be difficult, but it can save you from experiencing the far greater trauma of family abduction. The family will be less willing to aid in an abduction if they have a relationship with you. If an abduction does occur, you will need the support of the kidnapper's family to bring your child home safely.

Consider counseling. As little as 10 hours of intervention can effectively reduce the likelihood of family abduction. Information on obtaining counseling or mediation services is available at Child Find of America (1-800-426-5678) offers a mediation hotline. Your local family court can also help you with referrals to counseling or mediation services.

Begin the custody process immediately and get temporary custody of your child. You cannot prove your custody rights without a custody order.

Include abduction and interference prevention measures in the custody order. The most common are:

  1. Having both parents post bonds. If the child is abducted, the money helps the left-behind parent with costs of recovery. It also serves as a deterrent. Companies that provide such services include Accredited and Roche Surety. For more information on posting bonds, contact the Professional Bail Agents of the United States at or 1-800-833-PBUS.

  2. Providing detailed police procedures in case of abduction or custodial interference, and authorization for law enforcement to recover the child.

  3. Imposing visitation restrictions, such as supervised visits. The Supervised Visitation Network can provide more information about supervised visitations.

  4. Requiring that the parents passports be left at the county clerk's office during visitations.

  5. Keep a certified copy of the custody order with you at home. Check with your family court that it is the most recent order.

  6. Record and document abduction threats. Report them to the family courts or your lawyer immediately.


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