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Parental Child Abduction:Indicators of Risk


  • Ignore direct or indirect threats of removal of your child by their other parent/guardian.
  • Ignore direct or indirect threats made by the other parent/guardian of harm to your child, yourself, or themselves.


  • Consult with police and seek legal advice. When speaking to police, do not minimize any risks you feel exist.

Risk factors common to parental child abductions include:

  • The other parent/guardian has previously abducted your child.
  • The other parent/guardian has made direct/indirect threats about removing your child.
  • The other parent/guardian has made direct/indirect threats of harm to you, your child, or themselves.
  • The other parent/guardian has a history of controlling and/or violent behaviour.
  • The other parent/guardian shows high levels of hostility, anger, or resentment towards you or your family.
  • The other parent/guardian starts displaying stalking/harassing and obsessive behaviour (e.g., showing up at school or lessons, constant phone calls, text messages, or other online communications).
  • You and the other parent/guardian fight a lot, particularly regarding custody/access/parenting.
  • There has been a family court decision that the other parent/guardian is angry about. Emotions may run high for the period following such a decision and may increase the risk of parental abduction.
  • The other parent/guardian continually raises unreasonable concerns about your child’s safety and well-being while in your care.
  • The other parent/guardian has family or other connections in another country or province 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.”
  • The other parent/guardian has made significant life changes (e.g., quitting a job or selling a home).
  • The other parent/guardian has no job, could work anywhere, or is financially independent — in other words, is not tied to the area for financial reasons.
  • The other parent/guardian 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.

The presence of one or more of the 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. Use your best judgement when assessing risk, keeping in mind what you know about the other parent/guardian, your child, and your relationship.

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.