After getting divorced and reaching a child custody agreement, most parents just want to move on with their lives and keep the peace between themselves and their co-parent. However, there are a select few who come out of the divorce process with bad blood and wanting to exact revenge. Unfortunately, when there are children involved, parents might use them as pawns in the struggle with their ex. Generally, their behavior is petty but ultimately harmless. However, an especially bitter parent might abduct their child–perhaps even to another country.

How can a parent abduct their own child?

It may not make sense at first, but it is possible. When the court gives parents a custody order during their divorce, they are legally obligated to abide by its terms. To be able to take their child to another country long-term, the parent would have to go through the legal process to change their custody order. So, if the parent leaves with the child without telling anyone or getting legal permission, it is considered abduction. The formal term for this is international parental child abduction.

What recourse do I have if this happens?

In cases of international parental child abduction, the Hague Abduction Convention comes into play. This is a treaty that the United States and many other countries have joined. The goal of the Convention is to protect children from the negative impact of international abduction. The Convention encourages the prompt return of abducted children to their home country and helps parents regain the rightful custody of their child. This Convention becomes crucial because custody orders created in the United States may not be recognized in other countries. The countries that have signed this treaty mutually agree that they will not interfere in each other’s’ legal matters and will work together to resolve international abduction cases.

Getting the case resolved

Having your child taken out of the country without your knowledge can create a sense of panic. You may feel overwhelmed and bewildered by the prospect of bringing your child back home where they belong. To have their child returned safely and promptly, parents are strongly encouraged to seek legal guidance from an attorney with experience in international custody disputes.