Parental kidnapping is a real threat that is magnified if the abductor manages to leave the United States. Although this type of custody interference is frequently seen in situations where one parent is a foreign national, parental abductions where the child is taken to other countries sometimes occur even when both parents are American citizens.
Sometimes there may be signs that parents are planning to abduct their own kids. The other parent may see packed bags stashed in the trunk or discover that passports or birth certificates are missing. They could learn of airline ticket purchases or see other signs of potential abduction.
If you believe that your child's other parent is about to remove your child illegally from your custody, you should immediately call the local police and the FBI.
Although you can report a parent for absconding with your child without custody papers on file in the Maricopa County courthouse, having a custody order already in place bolsters your legal standing.
Custody orders define the rights and responsibilities of the respective parents for their children's custody. It can make it simpler for law enforcement to intercept the parent and get the kids back home safely.
When the abduction is international, it's more complicated to return children to their other parent. All actions must abide by the terms of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, or the "Hague Convention," as it is colloquially referred.
This international treaty establishes the civil mechanism that ensures prompt return of kids who were wrongfully removed from or kept out of the United States (or other countries of origin).
Under the terms of the Hague Convention, parents must show evidence of their having custody of their children. They must also establish those rights stem from legally-binding agreements or court orders or arise from "operation of laws."
Because of the technicalities involved in international parental abductions, most American parents and abducted children are best served by retaining legal advisers here in the United States.
Source: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, "Family Abduction," accessed March 02, 2018