What To Know About International Parental Child Kidnapping

What You Need To Know About International Parental Child Kidnapping

A missing child is every parent’s nightmare, and you can never be too careful about a minor’s safety. But while parents and guardians do their best to prevent child kidnappings and abductions, it is estimated that over one million search cases happen worldwide annually, according to The International Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Global Missing Child Network (GMCN).

Some individuals commit international parental child kidnapping to make it harder for the other parent to locate their children. International parental child abduction refers to transferring or retaining a minor committed illegally by a parent. This means the offending parent failed to secure the other parent’s consent, which is a breach of the custody rights of the latter.

When this happens, it’s best to act swiftly and inform authorities to find the child as soon as possible. More importantly, it’s in a parent’s best interest to hire a legal expert with experience in cross-county child abduction cases to deal with the situation.

Because of this, it’s best to arm yourself with basic information about this type of abduction. Read below to find valuable information on international parental child kidnapping.

Understanding international parental child kidnapping

Besides illegally transferring a child to a country, parental child kidnapping involves an underlying intention of establishing the destination country as the new residence for the kidnapped child.

The good news for left-behind parents is that they can rely on global regulatory safeguards to request access or bring their child back. For instance, a minor born and raised in the US and taken by a parent to Spain may hire lawyers who handle child kidnapping cases domestically and internationally. These legal counsels are experts at using local and international legal instruments and remedies to resolve cases swiftly.

Child kidnapping and abduction is a significant global issue that takes the heaviest toll on minors. For example, Spain has 20,000 cases of missing children annually, per the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC). Russia recorded 50,000 missing children in 2019, while Germany recorded 83,900 in 2021.

Similarly, about 2,300 children go missing in the United States daily for various reasons. Children may disappear due to parental and stranger abduction, conflicts, and getting lost, injured, or stranded, according to the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART).

The Hague Convention of 1980

An international treaty known as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, or the Hague Convention of 1980, is the primary legal instrument that handles international cases of parental child abduction.

Parents embroiled in such incidents can request the return of their children, 16 or below, granting that the minor was brought to a ratifying country. According to the Netherlands-based organization International Child Abduction Center (Center IKO), 93 countries have accepted the law.

As with other laws, the Hague Convention is only enforceable in nations that signed and recognized the treaty. A minor removed from a host country and retained in a new country illegally will be returned promptly to the former. However, it’s important to note that the Convention does not decide on custodial issues. It merely determines where the custody case should be settled or identify the Court that has jurisdiction over the matter.

In European Union member states, the Hague Convention of 1980 is supported by the Brussels II Bis Regulation, which supplements the elements not tackled by the treaty. It takes a step further by helping couples settle custody disputes involving more than one nation.

Other legal instruments and remedies are available

The Hague Convention of 1980 is far from perfect. As with different laws and international treaties, it does have limitations, as mentioned. Fortunately, there are other legal remedies available in pursuing such cases.

So, what happens if the child is taken to a country that hasn’t recognized the treaty yet? It will be up to the expert counsel to find other legal remedies and instruments applicable to your situation.

For instance, your lawyer may use other relevant statutes like bilateral legal agreements signed between your country and the country where the minor currently resides. In other circumstances, international litigation may be instigated, or states and international non-profit groups may assist you with mediation or out-of-court settlement.

You need a legal expert on your side

Parental kidnapping is challenging for parents to face domestically, but the involvement of two sovereign nations makes it even more daunting, as the situation has become an international concern. A child transported to another country becomes covered by the domestic family laws that apply to the said nation. Thus, a parent left in the originating country must also hire a lawyer specializing in international family laws and with experience in such matters.

Most cases of international parental kidnapping in the United States are common among married or unmarried couples in domestic disputes. They can also happen before, during, or after a divorce and when custodial rights are being questioned.

Most countries allow both parents to exercise parental authority over their minor children even after a divorce. But because family laws vary from country to country and state to state, these custodial rights may be impacted when domestic violence is involved.


Whether or not you wish to pursue a case, hiring a legal expert in international parental child kidnapping situations is crucial. Armed with their experience and knowledge in applicable international treaties, these attorneys will analyze all the case elements to provide valuable advice.

Moreover, parents undergoing tumultuous divorce proceedings and marital problems must consider which legal instruments can protect their children and uphold their custodial rights in international parental child kidnapping matters.

Soruce : https://www.lawyer-monthly.com/2023/03/what-to-know-about-international-parental-child-kidnapping/

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