What Is The Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act?
The Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (“UCAPA”) was drafted in 2006 and intended to assist the parents of abducted children, and parents who fear the possibility of abduction. The UCAPA was drafted to be compatible with and to augment existing state laws. As such, the act provides a valuable tool for deterring both domestic and international child abductions.
The UCAPA allows for abduction prevention measures to be initiated by a court on its own motio. Proceedings can also be initiated by a party to a child-custody determination, an individual with a right to seek such a determination, a prosecutor, or a public attorney. The person or persons who want the abduction prevention measures must file papers with the court that list specific risk factors for abduction and biographical information (name, age, gender of the child, the current address of the child). The person seeking the measures must also list the person against whom the measures are sought, a statement regarding any prior actions related to abduction or domestic violence, a statement addressing any prior arrests for domestic violence or child abuse by either party, and any additional information required by their individual state law enforcement agencies.
UCAPA list several factors that are used in determining whether there is a real risk that a child could be abducted. Factors include previous abductions, attempts or threats of abduction, signs of general abuse, domestic violence, negligence, or refusal to obey a court ordered child custody determination. Other activities that may also indicate a planned abduction include abandoning employment, liquidating assets, obtaining travel documents or travel tickets, or requesting the child’s school or medical records.
The act also deals with matters related to international child abduction. In particular, it requires courts to consider issues like if the possible abductor could take the child to a country that isn’t a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Additional factors are also considered by courts such as whether the child could be taken to a country that places the child at risk, if the country has laws that would restrict access to the child, is the country on the current list of state sponsors of terrorism, or is the country engaged in an active military action or war.
If after all the paperwork is correctly submitted and a court determines that the child is at significant risk of being abducted, it can enter an order to prevent abduction. The order can include travel restrictions, prohibitions on removing the child from the State, placement of the child in the United States Department of State’s Child Passport Issuance Alert Program, or other measures. The abduction prevention order remains in effect until the order’s expiration, the child’s emancipation, the child’s 18th birthday, or until the order is modified, revoked, or vacated.
The court can also issue a warrant to take direct physical custody of the child. During this process, the court can authorize law enforcement to enter private property or to make a forcible entry at any hour if the child is at risk. However, the person at risk for abducting the child must be served with the warrant as soon as legally possible and must be allowed a hearing the next judicial day or the next possible judicial day.
For more information about child abduction, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, your local law enforcement or FBI office.
Any and all advice contained herein is intended only to assist parents and families with abduction of children. Nothing suggested in this article should substitute for common sense, police direction or other professional advice.
About The National Academy for Child Abduction Prevention Associates, LLC:
Founded in 2013 by Roy M. Doppelt, Esq., the National Academy for Child Abduction and Prevention Associates, LLC is an Academy of family law attorneys advocating prevention of child abduction through public education and professional collaboration. We believe that educating the public about kidnapping and its prevention is a paramount duty of attorneys who represent family law clients.