If your child has been abducted to a country that is not a party to the Hague Abduction Convention, or if the Convention does not apply in your case, you can attempt using the civil justice system in the country to which your child was taken to try to achieve the return of your child. This usually will involve the family court system of that country.
Challenges to Using the Civil Justice System in Foreign Countries
There are many challenges that parents face in trying to use the Civil Justice system in countries that are not a party to the Hague Abduction Convention. For example:
Additionally, courts in other countries often do not consider the prior court decisions made in the United States. A custody order in the United States can therefore be meaningless abroad. When confronting this challenge, keep in mind the following three things:
Proceeding with the Civil Justice System in Foreign Countries:
Even though your custody order from the United States has no legal authority in another country, it still might help you. Sometimes that custody order can be persuasive in a foreign court. The foreign court may consider it as evidence. In rare cases, the foreign court may decide to even recognize and enforce the custody order on the basis of comity (voluntary respect of one country for the laws and judicial decisions of another country).
Ultimately, the foreign court will decide a child custody case on the basis of its own domestic laws—it is at the discretion of that court whether or not to give any weight to a U.S. court order.
If you decide to use the Civil Justice system in a country that is not party to the Hague Abduction Convention, you will likely need to retain an attorney in the country to which your child was taken. Please read our flyer about retaining a foreign attorney for more information about hiring an attorney abroad. Additionally, the case officer in our office may be able to provide you with some helpful hints about that country. Keep in mind that they are not able to provide legal advice to you, but they can serve as a helpful resource to you as you proceed with the emotional and difficult task ahead.
Tips to Keep in Mind