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Understanding international child abductions

When couples split and children are in the picture, an otherwise amicable separation can turn contentious when it comes to child custody disputes. Although parents have the option to take their custody dispute before a judge, in some instances, a parent may decide to take matters into his or her own hands and abscond with the child, usually without notifying the other parent. In some cases, a parent may take the child out of the country altogether, resulting in an international abduction.

The first step that needs to be taken is to notify the authorities as soon as possible and file a missing person's report with local authorities. If a parent believes that the other parent is planning on taking the child out of the country, it is essential to let the authorities know and contact the U.S. Department of State. Working with an experienced family law attorney who is familiar with international abduction cases may be helpful during this difficult and emotional time.

If the child was been taken out of the country, then, depending on which country the other parent has fled to with the child, one may have several options at his or her disposal. If the country in which the child is residing has ratified the Hague Abduction Convention, one has a legal mechanism by which to obligate the authorities in the other country to legally obtain custody of the child and return the child safely back to the USA.

No one should live in fear that his or her child may be abducted by the other parent and taken out of the country. In order to prevent this from happening, a parent should obtain a specific child custody order and place the child's passport, which is required for any travel abroad, in the custody of a neutral party or the court while custody proceedings are pending.

Source: U.S. Department of State, "International Parental Child Abduction - Abductions FROM the U.S.," accessed March 23, 2015

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