Child abduction is one of the most heartbreaking events than can happen to any parent and is one of the most emotionally-charged areas of family law. It can also involve diplomatic involvement, especially when different countries are involved.
Some countries may protect a parent from being forced to return a child if the abducting parent is a citizen of that country and takes the child to travel there, then fails to return the child to the other parent at the end of the visit. These countries refuse to sign treaties that allow them to have such international custody matters determined by The Hague or by the domestic courts of the country that was the child’s “home state” prior to being removed by the other parent.
Personal experience for the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C has been in dealing with the country of Brazil, which is only a signatory to the New York Convention, but still fails to facilitate the return of children who are essentially abducted away from the United States, even if those children are U.S. citizens.
There are several conventions and treaties, including the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, but a country unwilling to sign or to have its government ratify the ground rules for international abduction and custody fights means it can be a serious emotional and financial battle to gain return of a child once he or she is removed from the United States.
International Kidnapping is a Federal Crime
The International Parenting Kidnapping Crime Act 1993 “makes it a federal crime for a parent to remove or attempt to remove a child from the United States, or retain a child outside the United States with intent to obstruct another parent’s custodial rights.” However, prosecution of the kidnapping parent and the return of the child to the United States can be different matters. “Although the parent who removed the child from the United States is generally eligible for formal extradition because they are charged with a federal crime, the child is a victim of international parental kidnapping and often not eligible for formal extradition.” (Source: The United States Department of Justice). The child’s return is often settled through negotiation.
The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction also resulted in response to the increasing occurrence of parental child abduction and has resulted in different approaches to interpreting the key concepts of the Convention, thus prompting discussion of the issue.
What to Do if You’re Involved in a Parental Kidnapping
If your child or children have been kidnapped by the other parent, we urge you to take action right away. Talk to an attorney. Talk to us. We are experts in family law issues. We need to begin processes immediately and will counsel with you to set the necessary steps in place.