International child abductions are classified into two categories by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. They are abductions FROM the U.S., and abductions TO the U.S. Both are covered under what is known as Hague Abduction Convention.

The Hague Abduction Convention is a treaty joined my many countries to secure the rights of children, as well as to protect them from the harm of international abduction. The list of 76 countries joined can be found here. Since sovereign nations cannot interfere with each other’s court orders, the Hague Abduction Convention creates a central authority in each country who agree to work together to facilitate the location and return of a child. Essentially, it creates a central point to serve as the main contact for all parties involved, whether it be the child’s parents, a governmental agency, or attorney.

A U.S. based attorney may only accept a case in which the child was abducted TO the U.S. For abductions outside the U.S., a party would need to consult an attorney located in the country that the child was abducted to. Cases filed under the Hague Abduction Convention are separate from all other court matters, and do not guarantee the return of a child. They are referred to as Hague proceedings, and there are several specific requirements that must be demonstrated.

Consulting with an experienced child custody attorney is crucial to a Hague Abduction Convention application. An international child abduction is a very serious and complex matter that should not be navigated alone.