Q) I can’t find my child and the custodial parent. What can I do?
A) If you are unable to locate your child and the custodial parent, you should take action immediately. Here are some steps you can take:
- Contact local law enforcement: Report the child missing to the police and provide any information you have about their whereabouts or the custodial parent’s whereabouts.
- Contact the child support agency: If you are paying child support, contact your state’s child support agency and report that you are unable to locate the child and the custodial parent. They may be able to provide assistance or connect you with other resources.
- Hire a private investigator: A private investigator can help you locate the child and custodial parent.
- File a petition to modify custody: If you have a court order for custody or visitation, you can file a petition to modify custody or visitation. The court can issue an order for the custodial parent to return the child to you or provide information on the child’s whereabouts.
- Seek legal advice: Consult with an attorney who specializes in family law. They can help you understand your legal rights and options, and provide guidance on how to proceed.
NOTE: One of the services of the child support program is helping to locate children in parental kidnapping cases. Federal law allows the use of the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) in parental kidnapping or child custody cases (including cases in which the custodial parent has hidden the child in violation of a visitation order) if: 1) a civil action to make or enforce a custody order has been filed in the state courts; or 2) a criminal custodial interference case is being investigated or prosecuted. Requests for information from the FPLS in custody and parental kidnapping cases must come from a state child support agency. See state and tribal child support agency contact information. States may collect a fee from people using the service to cover processing costs.