Rieger & Fried LLP

What to do in an international parental kidnapping situation

When one parent takes his or her child out of the country with the intent to keep that child away from the other parent thereby preventing the other parent from exercising his or her parental rights, it is called international parental kidnapping. The U.S. Department of Justice notes that this is a federal crime because it is violating a federal law. While most child custody issues are handled at the state level in New York, the federal government will step in when it involves an international kidnapping.

When the government steps in, they will prosecute the case against the parent that took the child, but it is not always guaranteed that the child will be returned. It depends on the government in the country where the child was taken to. Countries that abide by the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction are obligated to return the child to the U.S., but other countries are not. The U.S. government will not participate in or allow any illegal actions to be taken to recover a child.

The U.S. Department of State offers assistance to parents whose children have been abducted by a parent and taken to another country through the Office of Children’s Issues. It will offer assistance with getting a child returned, providing information, answering questions and assisting with communicating with foreign entities. It may also be able to help stop the other parent from leaving the country if he or she has not done so and alert law enforcement of the kidnapping. The Department cannot assist with anything illegal, pay any money on behalf of a parent or offer legal advice or assistance.  

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