Laws and Regulations
Hague Abduction Convention (Convention)
- The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty that provides a legal framework for securing the prompt return of wrongfully removed or retained children to the country of their habitual residence where a court can decide custody issues.
Explanatory Report and Legal Analysis
- The “Perez-Vera Report” explains the legislative history and intended meaning of the Convention’s articles.
- The Department of State analyzed (51 Federal Register 10494, et seq.) the Convention.
- The International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), 22 U.S.C. § 9001 et seq. (formerly 42 U.S.C. § 11601 et seq.), establishes procedures for filing Convention cases in courts in the United States and authorizes the U.S. Central Authority to access federal databases to locate abducted children, among other provisions.
- The International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA), 22 U.S.C. § 9101 et seq., is intended to ensure compliance with the Convention, to establish procedures for the prompt return of abducted children, and for other purposes. For example, Title III of ICAPRA establishes a program that seeks to prevent abductions.
Uniform State Laws
- The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is a uniform state law that, among other provisions, provides clearer standards for the exercise of jurisdiction over child custody cases and provides for the registration and enforcement of out-of-state custody orders, including custody orders from another country.
The UCCJEA has been enacted, in some form, in 49 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the District of Columbia. State statutory citations and other information are on the Uniform Law Commission’s UCCJEA page. Additionally, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has a detailed description of the UCCJEA and its provisions.
- The Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (UCAPA) identifies risk factors for child abduction and provisions that can be included in court orders to reduce the risk of abduction. The Uniform Law Commission provides state statutory citations and other information for UCAPA here. Additionally, Understanding and Using UCAPA to Prevent Child Abduction, 41 Fam. L. Q. I (2007), is a guide for lawyers and judges on UCAPA.
- The Fugitive Felon Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1073, may be used by local and state prosecutors to seek a federal Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution warrant if a person is accused under state law of felony parental kidnapping and flees the jurisdiction.
- The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act of 1993, 18 U.S.C. § 1204, makes it is a federal crime to remove a child younger than 16 from the United States, attempt to do so, or retain a child (who has been in the United States) outside the United States with the intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights.
- The Extradition Treaties Interpretation Act of 1998, 18 U.S.C. § 3181, authorizes the U.S. to interpret “kidnapping” to include international parental kidnapping for purposes of any extradition treaty to which the United States is a party. A list of countries with which the United States has extradition treaties is at 18 U.S.C. § 3181.
Missing Children Laws Regarding Locating Abducted Children
- The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. §§ 653, 654, 663 allows “authorized persons” to obtain address information from the Federal Parent Locator Service in connection with the enforcement or determination of child custody or visitation, and in cases of parental kidnapping.
- The Missing Children’s Act, 28 U.S.C. § 534, requires the Attorney General to acquire, collect, classify, and preserve any information which would assist in the location of any missing person.
- The National Child Search Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5779-5780, requires each federal, state, and local law enforcement agency to enter information about missing children younger than age 21 into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database within two hours of receiving a missing-person report.
- Passport issuance to minors (Two Parent Consent Law), 22 U.S.C. 213n and 22 C.F.R. 51.28, requires both parents consent to the issuance of U.S. passports for children under the age of 16, unless the applying parent or legal guardian can establish that consent of both parents is not required.
If you require a U.S. visa to attend a Hague Abduction Convention hearing or for other purposes, but are unable to obtain a visa, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) publishes information about humanitarian parole.
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children NCMEC publishes additional resources on:
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has information on:
Office of Children's Issues at the U.S. Department of State
Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:15 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.