Child travel bonds can pressure parents to return kids after visits abroad
In part 1 of this post, we told readers about the power of a Florida judge to order an international travel bond as financial incentive for a divorced or unmarried parent not to abduct their child to another country, conceal them or retain them abroad longer than agreed to in a parenting plan or ordered by a court.
As we explained in the first part of this post, a Florida statute allows this bonding (plus other protections) to help protect kids and left-behind parents if the court finds sufficient evidence of abduction risk. If the bonded parent violates the bond conditions, the court orders it forfeited.
The forfeited bond amount may reimburse the nonviolating parent for related legal costs, costs for locating the child and returning them to that parent, and other court-awarded fees and costs.
Initially, the court must set the amount at a level reasonable for the bonded parent’s financial resources. If the bond is not enough to cover the left-behind parent’s damages, the violating parent will still be personally responsible for the excess harm.
Relevant factors to the bond decision
The statute says that the left-behind parent may ask a judge to order a travel bond after analysis of abduction risk. To emphasize, the law clearly says that the court may consider “any reasonable factor” or conduct. This means that while the law lists several factors that MUST be considered, the judge is not limited to those listed factors, which are:
- Has a court found that the other parent violated a parenting plan before by removing a child from Florida or another state? Has a court found that that parent threatened to do so?
- Does the other parent have strong ties to Florida or another state or country? Are they a citizen of another country?
- Does the other parent have financial incentive to stay in Florida or to go to another state or country?
- Have the other parent’s activities suggested they plan to move, including getting travel documents for themselves or the child?
- Has either parent perpetrated or been victimized by domestic violence, child abuse or child neglect?
- Does the other parent have a criminal record?
- Has the other parent experienced a change in citizenship or immigration status that impacts the ability to stay here legally?
- Did the government deny the other parent’s U.S. citizenship application?
- Did the other parent falsify government forms or submissions, or make false statements to officials?
- Has the other parent used different names in attempts to mislead others?
- Does the other parent have a mental health diagnosis that could impact the risk of abduction?
The final factor requires the court to perform a detailed analysis of the foreign country where the other parent would take the child. The statute lists several issues to consider concerning whether conditions could isolate or harm the child there as well as whether the country is an active and compliant party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction of which the U.S. is a signatory.
Talk to a Florida family lawyer if you fear abduction by the other parent of your child or if you face such an accusation and want to challenge a bond request.