If you are a parent whose child has been taken from the United States to another country in violation of your parental rights, the Office of Children's Issues is here to help you. We offer many services that you might find valuable during this difficult time. As the U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention, we can help you file an application for return of your child through this civil law treaty. If your child is in a country that is not a treaty partner, we can help you understand other possible solutions.
First, please read the information on this page and learn about possible solutions to an international parental child abduction. After reviewing these options, we invite you to contact us. We are experts on international parental child abduction. Our case officers understand what works in different countries and are available to respond to your questions and offer a variety of resources. In addition, we recommend consulting with an attorney. Finding an attorney is usually an important part of resolving an international parental child abduction case.
Q: I have a U.S. court order granting me sole custody of my child. Can I rely on my U.S. court order and remove my child from a foreign country without facing criminal and/or civil sanctions in that foreign country?
A: As a general matter no. Courts in other countries often do not automatically recognize orders from foreign courts, including orders from U.S. courts. Some countries may have a process through which a foreign court order may be recognized. In order to determine whether your U.S. custody order can be formally recognized by another country’s judicial system, you should retain an attorney licensed to practice law in that country. A custody order in the United States may therefore be ineffective abroad—even a U.S. custody order that grants you sole legal and physical custody of your child. The U.S. Government does not have the authority to represent you or otherwise participate in judicial proceedings in foreign courts.
So what does this mean?