International Parental Child Abductions

Broadly, international parental child abductions occur when a parent takes a child to a new country without the consent or agreement of the other parent, or in violation of a preexisting custody order granted by the court. Child abduction is illegal in the United States under state and federal laws. State laws may vary, but federal laws apply to child abduction in the country. The United States and international laws define and further criminalize international child abduction. International laws assist parents with reacquiring their children from another country after being illegally taken by another parent or person.

Washington International Parental Child Abductions Attorney

The issue of abduction is petrifying for parents. The fear and lack of control are compounded even further when the abduction involves a child crossing international boundaries. To ensure a child’s safe return, it is crucial to acquire the experienced legal counsel of a family law attorney. At Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson, attorney Shana Thompson and her legal team have the knowledge and resources to achieve successful results in parental abduction matters in Washinton, across the United States and around the globe.

Call (206) 712-2756 to schedule your initial consultation today. Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson accepts family law cases throughout all of King County including Seattle, Kent, Greenwood, Greenlake, Ballard, Northgate, Shoreline, Lake City Way, Bothell, North Bend, Mercer Island, Bellevue, Issaquah, Vashon Island and Maury Island. We also represent clients in Snohomish County and Tacoma in Pierce County.

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The Hauge Convention Treaty

In many circumstances, acts that are criminalized here in the United States may also be criminalized in other places. Nonetheless, even if that conduct is illegal, the laws and procedures of another country’s legal system may vary, causing additional difficulty in achieving an intended result. In the case of child abductions, the rules may differ from country to country, making returning the child to the non-offending parent challenging. With the rise of international child abductions, the Hague Abduction Convention treaty was established to, among other things, provide a standardized process for parents seeking the return of their children taken abroad illegally.

The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, more commonly known as the Hague Abduction Convention, was established to protect children internationally from the adverse effects of removal or retention in another country by establishing procedures to ensure they are returned.

The treaty defines international child abduction as the wrongful removal or restraint of a child by taking the child to another country in violation of a preexisting custody agreement or another parent’s custody rights. Each signatory country must set up a central authority to handle instances of international abductions.

For example, suppose a parent in the United States believes their child has been wrongfully taken to another country. In that case, the non-offending parent must contact the central authority of the United States or the country where they believe the child has been taken. After receiving a child abduction report, the central authority must take action to determine the child’s location, provide the parent with information on the child, prevent additional harm to the child, and expedite the legal process in their courts to secure the child’s return.

Even with the assistance of the Hague Abduction Convention, all parties must act quickly to secure the child’s return. Even in the best circumstances, returning an abducted child to their home country can take a very long time. The process could take weeks or even months before they are returned. Parties must act quickly because certain time restrictions may apply.

The purpose of the law is based on what is best for the child. A provision of the treaty involves the length of time a child remains in the new country. Under the treaty, a child may be allowed to stay in the new country if they have been there for at least one year and have settled into their new residence. Even if that child has been removed wrongfully, the central authority may allow the child to stay. For instance, when the process takes too long, the child can be adjusted to their situation such that forcing them to move could go against their interests. While it is not guaranteed that a child residing in another country for a year or more may remain in that country, you must not assume that your child will be sent back home because they were wrongfully taken. You must be proactive in seeking legal assistance because failing to do so could have drastic consequences.

Many international legal processes, including international child abduction, are complex and challenging to understand. However, an experienced international parental child abduction attorney understands the law and procedure involved to help you work quickly to bring your child home. If you believe your child has been wrongfully taken to another country in violation of your custody rights or a court order, Miller international parental child abduction attorneys are ready to assist you.

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International Kidnapping To A Non-Hague Abduction Convention Country

In some circumstances, your child may be taken to a country that does not comply with the treaty. Only 101 countries have agreed to enact the procedures described above by signing the treaty. If your child has been taken to a country outside of the convention, getting your child back to the United States becomes even more complicated. The laws and procedures set forth by the convention help standardize and expedite the process of returning a child to their home country.

However, if that child is taken to a country not subject to the Hague Abduction Convention, there is no standardized process, and the laws can vary widely. In those circumstances, it is even more critical to hire an experienced international parental child abduction attorney to assist you. Depending on the particular country involved, the laws may be difficult to interpret and even harder to enforce. An experienced international child abduction attorney can identify the relevant rules and procedures and take the steps necessary to ensure your child is safely returned to you.

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Additional Resources

While the United States generally does not have jurisdiction over international child abduction matters, the federal government has established child abduction acts to provide guidance on handling international abduction. These acts include the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act. If you believe that your child has been taken to another country wrongfully or in defiance of a court order, an experienced international child abduction attorney can help you apply this guidance and navigate the international legal processes.

The Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) | International Centre – The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children provides links to helpful information and resources related to the Hague Abduction Convention.

Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction And Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) | Washington State Legislature – The UCCJEA is a federal act passed into law by 49 states, including Washington. Visit this link to view the Washington codification.

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Seattle International Parental Child Abductions Lawyer | King County, WA

At Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson, attorney Shana Thompson offers experienced, wise counsel and effective aggressive representation concerning international child abduction. If your child has recently been abducted, we will stand by your side and relentlessly pursue your child’s return. Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson  has helped parents recover children from other states and countries around the world. We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your family, and we provide compassionate, attentive legal services to help minimize your anxiety.

Retain the legal counsel of an experienced lawyer by calling Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson at (206) 712-2756 today. We represent clients throughout King County including the cities of Seattle and Kent and the surrounding cities of Algona, Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Bothell, Burien, Carnation and more.

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