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AMBER alert needed for safety of child in divorce situation

How many times have you heard on the news that a child is missing? Then, a few days later it comes out that the non-custodial parent had the child the whole time? An AMBER alert was issued and the parent is in trouble. Every one of the AMBER alerts that you hear follow strict guidelines and activation criteria. There are some very critical recommendations.

AMBER plans makes sure that law enforcement has been brought in to confirm the abduction. Stranger abductions are the most dangerous; however, non-custodial parent abductions can be just as worrisome. If the police are not involved, this could lead to abuse of the system and an unmanageable workload. Every case is reviewed for its own merits and a judgment call has to be made swiftly. This is purely a police call, and they must use their best judgment.

AMBER plans state that the child has to be at risk of bodily harm or death for an alert to be issued. This means that stranger abductions are truly the most dangerous, unless the non-custodial parent is not reliable and may hurt the child to get back at the custodial parent. This has been much in the news lately.

For an AMBER alert to be effective, the authorities have to have enough information to find the child's location and they have to believe that an immediate broadcast to the public will help this effort. There must be a description of the child, the clothes he or she had on last and a picture if possible. If there is a suspect, the type and model of the vehicle he or she used can be an enormous help.

Another area to look at would be the child's age. Texas has a "7 years and younger" standard. At a minimum, the state agrees to broadcast AMBER alerts from other states no matter the age.

If you are worried about your child perhaps being abducted by the non-custodial parent in your divorce, you may want to do some research on the AMBER alert system and talk to your attorney about this.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, "Guidelines for Issuing AMBER Alerts," accessed Dec. 11, 2015

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