International Parental Kidnapping and Child Abductions are handled by the lawyers at this law firm who work with the U.S. Department of State – Office of Children’s Issues. When a child is abducted FROM the United States and taken to a foreign country that is considered an OUTGOING case by the U.S. Department of State.

The Department of State has a website that will help explain the procedure here.

Responding to an International Parental Child Abduction

The Office of Children’s Issues is prepared to assist you as you pursue recovery of your abducted child. You will be assigned a specific case officer who can assist you with opening a case with your local law enforcement, searching for your child, understanding the legal process, and in other ways.

As a starting point for this bewildering experience, please learn about these five steps to responding to an international parental child abduction, and be in touch with our office. We will help you each step of the way.


In cases where a child abduction or a wrongful withholding has occurred, the parent seeking return of the child must act quickly through their local child custody lawyers. There is a clock ticking, and it starts once a parent knows the location of the abducted or wrongfully withheld child, of twelve months.

After the 12 month point, there is a presumption that the child has become settled, has bonded with the abducting parent and that removal at that point will NOT be in the child’s best interests. This can be overcome, but it makes the child custody battle that much harder.


Child abductions – where one parent has wrongfully, meaning in violation of a court order, taken a child from or prevented the return to, the other parent can happen internationally.  Each country classifies the case as either incoming or outgoing. An incoming case is where the child has been abducted TO a country, and an outgoing case is where the child has been abducted from a country. Child custody lawyers who work on international cases are familiar with the laws, and the procedures for return of the child.

The U.S. Department of State handles incoming child abduction cases

The Office of Children’s Issues also handles incoming Hague child abduction cases – that is, abductions of children to the United States from countries that are partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.  In addition, our office can assist with abductions from non-partner countries, although our services in such cases are more limited.  If you are a parent whose child has been taken to the United States in violation of your parental rights, the Office of Children’s Issues offers services that you might find valuable during this difficult time.


The U.S. Congress dealt with international child abductions in 1993. It passed the International Parental Kidnapping Act (IPKA), 18 U.S.C.  §1204. The Act imposes criminal penalties on parents who illegally abduct children. For example, it is a federal felony for a parent to wrongfully remove or retain a child outside the United States. Defenses to the crime include 1) The defendant was granted custody or visitation pursuant to the UCCJEA, 2) the defendant is fleeing domestic violence, and 3) the defendant was unable to return a child to the custodial parent because of circumstances beyond their control.