If you are a divorced California parent whose children's other parent hails from a foreign country, you probably feel somewhat apprehensive every time (s)he takes your kids to that country for a visit. What if (s)he fails to return them to you?
Unfortunately, this type of international child abduction is not all that uncommon. But if it happens to you, you likely can get help via the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. As the The Hague Conference on Private International Law explains, 98 nations, including the United States, signed this international treaty back in 1980. Under it, each nation agreed to recognize, respect and adhere to all the other countries' child custody laws. They likewise agreed to work with each other in the event a child becomes the victim of international abduction.
Applying for assistance
Your first step in obtaining assistance getting your kids back is to apply to the Convention's Central Authority in the United States. Not only must you fill out the appropriate application form, you should also include all of the following:
- Complete identification information for yourself and your former spouse
- Complete identification information for each of your abducted children
- Whatever information you possess regarding your children's present whereabouts
- Whatever information you possess regarding the people who may possibly have your children
- Your grounds for applying to the Convention
As you might expect, the more information you can provide to the Central Authority, the more quickly its personnel can process your application and begin helping you get your kids back. Therefore, consider adding certified or verified copies of the following in your application bundle:
- Decree of divorce
- Custody order
- Parenting plan
- Your children's birth certificates
The Hague Convention's purpose is to get your kids back to you as expeditiously as possible. The Central Authority will consequently contact its counterpart in the country where your kids presently are, and the two governments will work together to remedy your situation.
This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.