The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty between many nations that was made to help the quick return of a child who has been internationally abducted.
How can this help me?
Military personnel and their families live in a very mobile society. Relocating can create unique problems for a parent who is divorced or never married to their child’s other parent.
Legal documents (often called custody orders) state who the legal and physical custodial parent is. Sometimes these custody orders are in a decree of divorce. Sometimes, if the parents never married, then there may not be any legal document about custody.
What can I do?
The State Department can provide detailed information about the country where the child was abducted. This can include information about its legal system, family laws, and attorneys willing to accept American clients.
The State Department also acts as a point of contact to parents in need, monitor court or other legal proceedings overseas, and assist parents in contacting local officials in foreign countries.
Contacting the State Department
A new toll-free number from the U.S. State Department can give you information you need on international parental child abduction. Just call toll-free: 1-888-407-4747. Citizens abroad may call 1-202-501-4444. Agents are available to assist you from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.
The Passport Look-Out Database
Parents can also have their child listed in a federal passport look-out database in case a passport is applied for in the child’s name.
Highlights About the Hague Convention:
- The Hague Convention does not provide any substantive laws just the procedure to return the child. This means that the Hague Convention does not decide who should have custody; instead, it decides which country has jurisdiction of the case.
- The Hague Convention only applies to countries that have signed the treaty.
- The United States signed the treaty in 1988. More than fifty (50) other countries have also signed the treaty.
- Both countries have to be members (signed the treaty) of the Hague Convention.
- It is only available when a child has been wrongfully removed from their country and taken to another country.
- The petitioner (often the other parent) must show that the removal or retention is “wrongful.”
- Return of the child is to the member nation rather than specifically to the left-behind parent.
- View the Child Abduction Section of the Hague Convention
- U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues
- Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program
- Fact Sheet: Hague Convention – Child Custody (PDF version)