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International child abduction: How to get your child back

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2024 | High Asset Divorce |

A parent taking a child to the United States or a country without the consent of the other parent can be an absolute nightmare. It is a heart-wrenching situation that can bring up difficult emotions and a sense of helplessness.

However, if the country where your child has been abducted to is part of the Hague Convention Treaty, there is a legal process designed to help get your child back. It is essential to follow the steps below and act quickly because the more time passes, the more complex the situation can become.

The Application of the Hague Convention in the United States

This treaty, short for The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, is an international treaty that many countries, including the United States, have joined.

In the United States, it is used to protect children from international abduction to the United States by a parent and to help the other parent through the legal process of getting their child back to their home country. For example, if your family is from Mexico and your children were taken to the United States, you could use this treaty to have your children returned to their home country of Mexico.

The treaty states, and the countries within it have agreed that a court in the child’s home country is the court that is best suited to decide child custody. The treaty assists in the extradition process of a child back to their home country, not in deciding who should have custody or the terms of custody.

Steps to take

  1. Act quickly after your child is taken. Delaying the process could make it much harder to get them back.
  2. Gather as much evidence as you can, including evidence that the child was living with you before the other parent took them, evidence of where the child is and details of the abduction.
  3. Seek legal help. These cases are complicated because they involve more than one country and international laws.
  4. Your attorney will apply with the Hague authorities, where a government office will work on your case and determine whether the child was wrongfully taken or abducted.
  5. The foreign government entity will attempt to locate your child and help return them home.
  6. Your attorney may have to work with the other government entity if the other parent has arguments supporting their alleged right to have their child live with them in the United States.
  7. Your attorney will be prepared to present evidence of the court’s decision here, including any court orders that show the child is to live in this country.
  8. If the United States approves your request and orders your child’s return to the home country, your attorney will help you navigate the next steps.

It is important to know that this is a complicated and costly process. It can take time and you may have to go through months of red tape to get your child back.

However, it is possible; the Hague Convention exists for this purpose, and if justice is on your side, feel confident that the outcome of your case could be a positive one. While we can only file legal proceedings for a child abducted to the United States. We can assist you in navigating the process with government entities outside of the United States to begin the process in a foreign country if your child has been abducted from the United States.

Attorney George Ruiz is fully bilingual in English and Spanish and is able to assist you in these cases. Because of the complexity of Hague Convention cases, Attorney Ruiz’s office requires a $300 consultation fee for cases regarding the Hague Convention.