You may petition to invoke the protection of the International Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention) if the other parent wrongfully removed your child from his or her country of habitual residence or retained your child during a period visitation, for example, in violation of your rights of custody.
When the Hague Convention does not apply, the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act makes it a federal criminal offense for a parent to wrongfully remove or retain a child outside U.S. borders with the intent to obstruct the left-behind parent’s custodial rights.
If your child has been abducted it is imperative that you immediately contact a family law attorney who has international experience. Time is of the essence in these cases. If your child has been taken from the United States to a foreign country, an experienced family law attorney will help you: (1) file an Application for Return of Child with the U.S. State Department if the child can be returned to you under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention); (2) provide expert testimony when needed; (3) coordinate with the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues; (4) help you find an attorney in the foreign jurisdiction; (5) assist foreign counsel with the preparation of affidavits and testimony to prove your case and eliminate defenses; (6) conduct legal research; (7) prepare and prosecute the custody proceedings in state where the child was habitually residing; (8) assist with the initiation of criminal proceedings against the abductor under federal law (the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act) and state criminal law and take appropriate measures to encourage law enforcement authorities to issue warrants and take other actions; (9) coordinate efforts to prevent the abductor from fleeing to yet another jurisdiction; (10) coordinate with foreign counsel to court orders for the return of the child; help develop alternative strategies when the Hague Convention does not apply.
Our experienced international family law attorney has mentored, consulted or been counsel of record in more than 200 cases involving the Hague Convention and child abduction cases or other issues involving international family law. She has successfully returned many children to their country of habitual residence and the left-behind parent or custodian. Attorney Laura Dale, who is board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, has return children under the Hague Convention to many countries in Europe, South and Central America, and other countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention. The experienced family law team at Laura Dale & Associates, P.C., has also worked to return children to the United States from Hague and non-Hague countries.