International Child Abduction

International child abduction refers to the wrongful removal or retention of a child by one parent or guardian from their home country or habitual residence to another country, typically without the consent of the other parent or legal guardian. This act is considered a serious violation of parental rights and can have severe emotional and legal consequences for the child and the left-behind parent.

The main international instrument that addresses the issue of child abduction is the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, commonly known as the Hague Abduction Convention. The convention was created to provide a legal framework for the prompt return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence and to protect the rights of access of the left-behind parent.

Under the Hague Abduction Convention, member countries are required to establish a central authority responsible for locating abducted children, initiating legal proceedings, and facilitating their return. The central authorities from different countries collaborate to resolve cases of child abduction, ensuring cooperation and communication between the involved parties.

If a child is wrongfully taken to a country that is not a signatory to the Hague Abduction Convention or if the convention is not applicable for other reasons, the legal recourse may vary depending on the specific bilateral agreements or domestic laws between the countries involved. In such cases, it can be more challenging and time-consuming to secure the return of the child.

It’s important for parents or legal guardians who suspect or experience international child abduction to seek legal assistance promptly. They should contact their country’s central authority responsible for child abduction cases, consult with an attorney specializing in international family law, and gather relevant documentation to support their case.

For more information: Justice.Gov/criminal-ceos/international-parental-kidnapping