Please consider donating to PIPCA so that we can continue the important work of saving children from international abduction. Thank you.
Prevent International Parental Child Abduction (PIPCA) was formed by Teresa J. Lauderdale, Cathy Brown, and Nina Lauderdale to help protect children from international parental child abduction, and to increase awareness of the tragedy of international abduction and of preventive measures that can be ordered by a Court when a child is at risk of abduction. PIPCA can assist in arranging training, expert testimony, mediation, and providing general advice on this issue.
We also offer neutral off-site Supervised Visitation and Monitored Exchanges services in the Richmond, VA area for a variety of types of cases (not necessarily abduction risk).
For more information on PIPCA, see tabs at the top of this page.
Laws Enacted to Prevent International Parental Child Abduction
In 2003, Texas enacted landmark legislation, the Prevention of International Parental Child Abduction Act, which was added to Chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code (as Subsections 153.501-153.503). The Act, HB1899, was introduced in the Texas Legislature at the request of Cathy Brown and Teresa Lauderdale, who drafted the legislation. It passed both chambers unanimously, and was signed into law by the Governor.
“This legislation will give our courts the tools they need to prevent children from being abducted into foreign countries where they are out of the reach of our laws. No child should be forcibly separated from their mother or father, and the courts must step in to protect that child whenever there is a flight risk, especially into nations that do not cooperate with our courts.” Senator Nelson said. “International child abduction is not only devastating to the child and parent, it creates an enormous financial burden both for the parent and for the government to recover and return the missing child.”
Without the safeguards in HB 1899, a parent had no means to protect their child even if they knew an abduction was about to take place or was in progress. There are a number of cases where parents pleaded for safeguards from Courts unsuccessfully; the children were then abducted, never to be heard from again. This Act will increase awareness in the Texas courts regarding the risks, obstacles to recovery, and safeguards needed to protect at-risk children. We encourage all other States to pass similar legislation. See TX Family Code under CHAPTER 153. CONSERVATORSHIP, POSSESSION, AND ACCESS:
- SECTION 153.501. NECESSITY OF MEASURES TO PREVENT INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION
- SECTION 153.502. ABDUCTION RISK FACTORS
- SECTION 153.503. ABDUCTION PREVENTION MEASURES
Commissioners from Texas then took the code to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws , who then developed a Model Child Abduction Prevention Act. Teresa Lauderdale participated as an official Observer throughout the process. For a copy of the model act, and an update on States that have passed this legislation, see the Uniform Law Commission’s website.
Some states have modified the language somewhat to further protect victims of domestic violence.
**********Important Prevention Tool Involving Non-U.S. Citizens**********
The Prevent Departure program started after 9/11/01 and has been gaining more utilization over time. The Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection oversees this program, and it is monitored 24-hrs a day. Information provided by the State Department which details the Prevent Departure program is shown below. To see if your case qualifies for Prevent Departure, please contact the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues via email at [email protected] with your questions. If your situation is an emergency and you require immediate assistance, please call 1-888-407-4747. See the State Department’s website for more information about preventing international parental child abduction. Also see information about the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program.
The DHS Prevent Departure Program, created to stop non-U.S. citizens from departing the country, may be an effective tool to stop an abduction in progress. The program only applies to aliens; it is not available to stop U.S. citizens or dual U.S./foreign citizens from leaving the country. There are certain legal restrictions that must be met. For instance, the request must come only from a designated law enforcement agency or the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues (not parents). It may take up to 2 days to be added to the alert list, although urgent cases may be handled much faster (in a few hours) on request. If the abductor and child are identified, they may be denied boarding.
The purpose of the prevent departure program is to ensure that no alien shall depart, or attempt to depart, from the United States if his departure would be prejudicial to the interests of the United States. Authority to prevent departure from the U.S. of persons whose departure would be prejudicial to the national interests is contained in 8 USC 1185(a) and 8 CFR 215.3. The specific reasons for prevention of departure and the rules for the conduct of proceedings are detailed in those sections and in 22 CFR 46.
The objective of the Prevent Departure Program is to provide an immediate capability to intercept known or suspected terrorists, criminals and other wanted individuals through an effective method for disseminating prevent departure information to the transportation industry. This roster has included cases of potential international kidnappings by non-custodial parents as well. The immediate goal is to effectively and efficiently provide all air, land and maritime conveyances a single point of contact at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and provide a single, comprehensive prevent departure lookout database of prevent departure subjects for whom the United States suspects of imminent or immediate departure to foreign countries.
At the time of this writing, requirements of the program are as follows:
- Subject may NOT be a US citizen;
- The nomination must include a law enforcement agency contact with 24/7 coverage;
- There must be a court order showing which parent has been awarded custody or shows that the subject is restrained from removing his/her minor child from certain counties, the state or the U.S.;
- The Subject must be in the US; and
- There must be some likelihood that the Subject will attempt to depart in the immediate future.