PanamaOfficial Name: Republic of Panama
Embassies and Consulates
Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas,
Telephone: (011) 507-317-5000
Emergency Telephone: (011) 507-317-5000
Fax: (011) 507-317-5278
Panama and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since June 1, 1994.
For information concerning travel to Panama, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Panama.
In April 2013, the U.S. Department of State cited Panama as demonstrating patterns of non-compliance with the Hague Abduction Convention in its annual Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The report is located here.
Hague Abduction Convention
The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention. In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Panama. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Outide the United States or Canada: 202-501-4444
The Panamanian Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores performs the duties given to central authorities under the Hague Abduction Convention, including processing Hague Abduction Convention applications for return of and access to children. They can be reached at:
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
Dirección General de Asuntos Juridicos y Tratados
San Felipe. Calle 3. Palacio Bolívar. Edificio 26, Ciudad de Panamá. Telephone: (507) - 511-4228 / 511-4129
Fax: (507) - 511-4022/ 511-4008/ 511-4323
To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Panama, the left-behind parent must submit a Hague application to the Panamanian Central Authority, either directly or through the U.S. Central Authority (USCA). The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to Panamanian Central Authority, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.
There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or the Panamanian Central Authority. Attorney fees, if necessary, are the sole responsibility of the person hiring the attorney. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.
A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, Panama. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Panama. The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
Retaining an Attorney
Although not required, the Panamanian Central Authority encourages a Hague applicant to retain an attorney in order to have his or her interests represented in court. The Fiscalia de Familia, under the Attorney General, or Ministerio Publico, represents the child in court.
Upon request, Panama may provide pro bono legal assistance to foreigners who demonstrate a lack of financial means to pay for an attorney in Panama. The Panamanian Central Authority requires that the petitioning left-behind parent submit a detailed document outlining his or her lack of financial means, along with supporting documentation, such as a salary stub.
The U.S. Embassy in Panama City, Panama posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.
This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.
Attorneys may arrange for mediation through family courts; both parties must be present for mediation. However, there are currently no non-governmental organizations that offer mediation services for custody disputes in Panama.
Do not attempt to take back your child
We strongly discourage taking matters into your own hands. The measures could be illegal and may delay your child’s return. Attempts to re-abduct your child from the United States may:
- Endanger your child and others;
- Prejudice any future judicial efforts you might wish to make in the United States; and
- Could even result in your arrest and imprisonment.
Finally, there is no guarantee that the chain of abductions would end with the one committed by you. A parent who has re-abducted a child may have to go to extraordinary lengths to conceal his or her whereabouts, living in permanent fear that the child may be re-abducted yet again.
If you are contemplating such desperate measures, we advise you to consider the emotional trauma inflicted on a child who is a victim of an abduction and a re-abduction. We discourage re-abduction not only because it is illegal, but also because of possible psychological harm to the child.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction.