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What You Need to Know About International Child Abduction By A Parent

As we become a global economy and airlines link the remotest parts of the world within a day, international child abduction by a parent has become easier, more common, and problem in need of law-making. For this reason, about 25 years ago the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was proposed, signed by many nations and ultimately ratified (over a long time).1

In the event you are in this situation or concerned about it, the blog is written for you. It highlights the key aspects of international abduction of children by a parent. The first place to begin is to figure out if your country (presumably the USA) and the other nation-state are signatories to the Hague Convention and if it has been ratified by the controlling body.

If so, the Hague Convention applies to your situation. The Hague Convention is an international treaty to aid in return of a child wrongfully removed from his state (country) of habitual residence (where he or she was living for a certain time before removal) by working with the corresponding law enforcement body of the foreign state.

This is a long process, and will necessitate attorneys with a working knowledge of the Hague Convention in both states. There are numerous barriers along the way, including time and language barriers. Assuming these can be overcome, the Convention should ultimately aid in return of the child to his or her country of habitual residence.

That said, it is key to note that the Convention treats children as anyone 16 years of age or younger. This is much different than the laws in the United States. Relief may also be accomplished by federal law known as the parental kidnapping prevention act. Finally, if the nation-state to where the child has been removed is not a part of the Hague Convention, a party must go through the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

There is a lot of activity with the application of the Hague Convention in Asia, and most countries in the Middle East are not signatories. The Hague Convention does not deal with similar topics such as international trafficking in children.

We hope this blog post give you general background into this very technical (and emotionally draining topic for parents) area of child custody and wrongful removal into other states. If so, this blog post has met it goal. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who practice throughout the State.


  1. A good summary of recent developments in the Hague Convention is set forth in the American Bar Association’s Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 2 (Summer 2014).
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