International child abductions happens more often that most people may think, but they are especially common among ex-spouses who share international custody. In these particular cases, it is important to know where to turn for help in the event of an abduction.
First, understand that an international abduction can happen when a child is taken FROM the U.S., as well as when a child is taken TO the U.S., depending on which parent has custody. Seventy-six countries across the world have joined what is known as the Hague Abduction Convention. Because sovereign nations cannot interfere with the court orders of one another, this treaty creates a central authority by which they can all work together to recover an abducted child.
There are strict rules for cases to be handled under the Hague Abduction Convention. These are referred to as Hague proceedings, and are standalone cases not attached to any other court matter. If the child was taken to the U.S., then the parent will need a U.S. based attorney. If the child was taken out of the U.S., an attorney in that country must be retained.
International child abductions cannot, and should not, be handled without the help of an experienced attorney. The very first thing any parent who suspects such an abduction should do is to consult with an attorney who can guide them in the right direction and prevent any unnecessary delays. Time is very much of the essence. Hague proceedings do not guarantee the return of a child, but the quicker they are invoked the better chance there will be of the child being recovered safely.