Dealing with international abduction of a child

When a parent removes their child from Florida to a different country while under another parent's custody, this is known as international abduction. This action is prohibited by federal law, and a conviction can lead to imprisonment and exclusion from future custody rights.

According to the United States Department of Justice, child victims are often taken from their family, community and friends, and placed in an isolated environment. Many are told that the other parent is dead or no longer wants them. Kidnapping typically occurs during the early stages of divorce, during a heated argument or while waiting for a custody agreement decision. Kids who are abducted are often at risk for:

  • Nightmares
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Eating disorders
  • Aggressive behavior 

Parents whose child has been taken should immediately contact federal authorities, who will work with foreign law enforcement agencies and officials to locate the child and prosecute the kidnapper.

Fortunately, multiple other countries have joined together to help fight international abduction. According to the Department of State, the Hague Abduction Convention has been signed by over 70 countries all over the world. This treaty is designed to help a child's prompt return to their own country and secure their rights while keeping them safe. The convention is helpful for residents in the United States because court orders from the U.S. are not always recognized by other countries, who are not allowed to interfere with the legal decisions of other nations.

While filing a Hague application can help find and return an abducted child, there are circumstances in which a court may deny the request. Reasons include potential exposure to harm, the child does not wish to return or the child has become stabilized in the new environment.


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Beverly L. Brennan, P.A.
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