Many people are surprised to learn that nearly half — 49 percent — of the perpetrators of child abductions in the United States are family members. Of that total, 43 percent are parental abductions.
Complicating matters further, some non-custodial parents abduct their children and flee the country with them. This often occurs when the abductor is a citizen of, or has deep roots in, the country to which they flee with their minor children. However, this is not always the case, as American citizens without apparent ties have also fled our country’s jurisdiction with their children.
What is the child’s other parent to do in such a situation?
Regardless of whether a custody order is in place or even filed when the parental abduction takes place, the remaining parent must act swiftly. It’s always advisable to seek legal counsel in such matters, as interpreting international laws and treaties is not something most lay people are equipped to handle.
Depending upon where the abducting parent fled with the child, you and your attorney may be able to invoke the legal mechanisms of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, known colloquially as the “Hague Abduction Convention.”
Will the Convention grant me custody?
The Convention focuses on the return of abducted children from countries that are treaty partners with the United States. While not delving into custodial issues, it seeks to establish the civil jurisdiction where the matter can be adjudicated, i.e., the habitual residence of the abducted child.
While commonalities exist in these type of abductions, the specifics of the cases differ widely and must be managed accordingly. Your attorney can coordinate with the country officer to attempt to reunite you and your child in the shortest time possible.
Source: U.S. Department of State, “Filing a Hague Application,” accessed May 19, 2017