The very nature of divorce, in most cases, involves disagreement on some level. It is for this reason that a large majority of divorcing Tennesseans find difficulty determining child custody arrangements after separation. When worse comes to worst and arrangements do not go according to plan, there is one factor in the equation that stands above the rest: the child’s safety. 

When an ex-spouse refuses to return a child to another parent — or, worse, his or her whereabouts with the child is unknown — panic can easily settle in. Informational resource KidGuard points out that these unsettling situations are no rarity, as The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children receives well over 200,000 family kidnapping cases each year. Furthermore, KidGuard shares that parents pose a far greater risk to children than do relatives. One reason for this high statistic could lie in the rising divorce rates around the country; as a result, countless children live in split households where disagreements over custody can be common. Above all else, KidGuard stresses that these cases are incredibly serious, since they can affect a child for life.

The U.S. Department of State also provides information on parental child abductions, urging readers to take action even in uncertain situations. Because the first few hours of an investigation and search can be pivotal to a child’s safety, the Department encourages parents to call local authorities in the case of suspicious activity. In addition, parents can prevent one of these frightening scenarios by keeping eyes peeled for red flags: if the other parent’s behavior suddenly changes, for example, they could have harmful plans in mind. Selling a house or car quickly are other warning signs that trouble could be around the corner. The Department notes that court orders can also help keep a child safe, which can place limitations on passports and travel — the two components that can escalate an incident all too quickly.