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The Hague Convention and parental kidnapping

Parental kidnapping is a horrible situation where one parent, usually the parent without custody, takes his or her children away from the custodial parent and flees. In these cases, many parents flee the country because of the hope that there are protections there to prevent them from being sent back to America. It can also be much harder to locate those who have fled the country.

Fortunately, parents who find themselves in this situation have a few options. If a parent has fled to a country that is a treaty partner of the United States, then you may be able to use the Hague Convention to have the parent and your children returned to the United States by order of the United States courts.

You may have to file a foreign custody or access order if the Hague Convention is not in place in the country where the children were taken. This order requests that the other country recognizes the United States' ruling over the case and return the children and parent to the country. At the very least, the children should be returned.

How long can these cases take? It depends on your situation and if you know where your children are. With the Hague Convention, the United States courts and your attorney can press for answers on delays if it takes longer than six weeks for a response. The hearing itself has no particular time frame, though, so that can be delayed as long as required. Under a foreign custody or access order, you should receive a response from the other country's government the following day.

Source: U.S. Department of State, "International Parental Child Abduction," accessed Jan. 25, 2016

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