What remedies are available in interstate/international custody disputes or child abduction cases within the United States between the United States and foreign countries?
The ease of mass transportation within the United States and abroad has brought about a number of high-profile international child custody matters and abduction cases. The international child custody lawyer can access two key legal resources to address these cases. The first is the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, which is an international treaty that is binding upon all states that have signed the pact and had it subsequently ratified in their home country.
Generally, countries that have signed (i.e., are “signatories”) and have approved (“ratified”) the Hague treaty focus on returning a child to his or her country of habitual residence, or the country from which the child was impermissibly removed against or without a court order. Under Hague, the international custody lawyer is limited by the age of the child; the treaty is only binding on children 16 years of age or under. In other words, the Convention ceases to apply when the child reaches the age of 16.
The international child custody lawyer may face a number of countries where the children have been taken that are not signatories to the treaty or have not ratified it. These countries generally have a very different notion of child rights, and in some cases the equality of women as well, and include a large number of countries in the Middle East.
If the international child custody attorney is faced with such a case, non-signatory countries are addressed through the Center for Missing and Exploited Children (known by the acronym “NCMEC”). These cases do not have as clear of legal remedies and sometimes take much longer to get into play. Either way, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is the starting point for both cases with the parties and counsel, contemporaneously with necessary court filings.
In the confused situation and place of grief, which parents face in addressing all of these agencies, foreign countries, language and time barriers, as well as handling the loss of their children, it is nevertheless of key importance to take care and time in selecting international child custody lawyers who can handle these time barriers, language translation issues, travel and the like, and effectively select, and efficiently work with, counsel in the other countries involved.
In addition, many international child custody lawyers handle interstate (i.e., within the United States) child custody disputes or parental abductions, which are generally governed by the uniform child custody jurisdiction set of enforcement acts or laws adopted in the states (known by the acronyms “UCCJA” or “UCCJL” or “UCCJEA”) or the Parental Kidnapping and Prevention Act (known by the acronym “PKPA”). There is some limited application of the UCCJEA to international cases. The PKPA does not apply in international cases.
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