International parental child abduction remains a serious concern.
International parental child abduction remains a serious concern. The United States Department of State works both to prevent parental child abductions and to assist families after they have occurred.
In 2012, the United States Department of State received reports of 1,144 children abducted by a parent or relative from the United States to a foreign country. An additional 473 children were reported abducted into the United States from abroad.
Each abducted child leaves behind a circle of suffering people – a mother or a father, grandparents, siblings, relatives and friends. For the abducted children, it means separation from those nearest and dearest to them. It also means, in many cases, being forced to adapt to an entirely different culture, language, religious faith, and national identity.
The Hague Abduction Convention is an international treaty that provides a civil remedy to parents seeking the return of a child. Its focus is securing the prompt return of a child who has been abducted from or retained outside of the country of habitual residence, in violation of custodial rights.
Seventy-one of the 90 contracting states are currently Convention partners with the United States. They are obligated to return an abducted child if certain criteria are met. The Convention also details instances when a court may deny a request to return a child to his or her habitual residence. The process is the most effective tool for resolving international parental child abduction cases.
The International Parental Kidnapping Act of 1993 makes it a federal crime to remove a child from the United States or retain a child outside the United States with intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights. Parental kidnapping is a crime in all 50 states.
The United States calls on other nations to cooperate in ending international parental child abduction. It urges all countries that have not acceded to the Hague Convention to do so. And it calls on those countries that are parties to ensure their courts and agencies implement the Convention effectively and consistently. Issues of child custody should be decided by a process of law in a child’s country of habitual residence.