International Child Abduction
ABOUT THE PROBLEM
Most child abductions that cross U.S. borders involve one parent taking his or her child away from a spouse, typically referred to as international parental child abduction (IPCA). The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reported that between 2008 and 2017, it received 11,581 cases of children who were abducted by a parent or family member, and that 25.9% of those cases had an international component.
These are only crimes if the parent from whom the child is being taken has a court order establishing custody. It’s illegal for a parent to remove a child from the U.S. or keep a child in a foreign country with the intent of obstructing the other parent’s custodial rights (see federal law 18 U.S.C. § 1204 – International parental kidnapping). Of course, it’s illegal for a stranger to kidnap a child as well, regardless of whether they cross international borders in doing so — but the vast majority of international child abductions from the U.S. involve a parent, legal guardian, or someone acting on their behalf.
A variety of federal agencies are involved in trying to prevent and solve such cases, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Department of State and others. CBP, in coordination with these others agencies, manages a program meant to prevent the departure of a child from the U.S. when presented with a valid, enforceable court order. While this program can be effective, many abductions nonetheless succeed — and they demand a rapid legal and law enforcement response.
You need legal counsel experienced in dealing with the multiple issues and challenges involved in resolving an international parental child abduction case.
- PASSPORT ALERT: We can help you navigate the U.S. Department of State’s Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP). CPIAP can alert you if a passport is about to be issued to your child (if he or she is under the age of 18).
- COURT ORDERS: If you are concerned that someone will leave the country with your child, we can file motions seeking a court order to prevent their departure. Law enforcement usually needs to see that court order prohibiting the child’s travel outside of the United States before it can intervene.
- Similarly, if you discover your child is being brought back to the U.S., we can help you file for emergency custody. Upon your child’s return to the U.S., we can emphasize to a judge the fact that the child was taken out of the country without your permission as grounds for custody.
- If your child has been gone for 6 months, we can help you seek a custody order under the “Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Convention),” commonly referred to as the Hague Abduction Convention. The U.S. is a signatory to the Convention.
WE’RE HERE FOR YOU
You have rights. And Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner can help you explore all your options under the law.
- Partner Rebecca Janet Wade focuses on family law and criminal defense, and has extensive experience with laws involving international child abduction, including the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction (1980) and coordination with the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Office of Children’s Issues.
- She speaks fluent Spanish and has represented over 100 native Spanish speakers, helping them through the legal process in their native language and is knowledgeable about the immigration consequences of any criminal convictions.
When you’re ready to call, we’re ready to help. Reach us at 703-836-9030, or contact us here.
Family Abuse Attorney
Ms. Wade has represented clients charged with a wide range of offenses from traffic offenses to serious felonies such as aggravated malicious wounding, drug distribution, and sex crimes. Ms. Wade has tried over two dozen jury trials and hundreds of bench trials. Additionally, Ms. Wade has experience handling appeals and has appeared numerous times at the Court of Appeals of Virginia and the Supreme Court of Virginia, earning victories in both Courts.