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International abduction: How to get your child back

When you got divorced, you may have believed that although your marriage was ending, your relationship with your former spouse would continue because you have a child together. For the most part, you may have thought you’d merely have to be civil, adhere to your court order and do your best to keep things amicable between you for the sake of your child or children.

You may never have imagined you’d be facing an international child abduction situation. In fact, you probably agreed to allow your ex to take your child to another country because you thought it would be an educational and adventurous experience for them. When the agreed-upon date for their return to the U.S. came and went and your child still was not back, you may have sensed that there was a serious problem. You’ll be glad to know help is available to help you seek justice and protect your child.

Immediate steps you can take to seek your child’s return

It’s understandable that a post-divorce international child abduction would make you feel overwhelmed, helpless and afraid. It is important to know there are support networks in place to help parents rectify such situations. You should notify the following people as soon as possible to secure your child’s safe return to the United States and to your custody:

  • Local authorities: While an international situation requires special measures that may be outside local law enforcement’s realm, your local police may be able to expedite the process and point you in the right direction for assistance. They will do what they can to help.
  • Public officials: By informing the U.S. Ambassador to the country your child is in and other public officials, you may be able to tap into political resources that can affect the situation in your favor.
  • An experienced attorney: Having a personal legal advocate by your side can help alleviate stress and also keep you in the know regarding international child abduction laws and custody regulations that pertain to your particular situation. Under the circumstances, it would be best to reach out to someone who is well-versed on The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Any post-divorce child abduction is an emergency situation; however, international disputes often require specialized knowledge and action due to differences in laws between countries, political issues and other factors. Your child’s safety is of highest priority. Local authorities, U.S. government officials and family law advocates may be able to help you seek enforcement of your custody order and secure your child’s safe return.