International Parental Child Abduction

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Country Information

Belize

Belize
Belize
Exercise increased caution in Belize due to crime.

Exercise increased caution in Belize due to crime.

Violent crime, such as sexual assault, armed robbery, and murder, is common. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Belize:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Avoid walking or driving at night.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Belize.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
... [READ MORE]
Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Belmopan

4 Floral Park Road
Belmopan, Belize
Telephone: +(501) 822-4011
Emergency After-Hours telephone:+(501) 610-5030
Fax: +(501) 822-4012
Email: 

General Information

Belize 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 November 1, 1989.

For information concerning travel to Belize, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, currency and entry regulations, and crime and security, please see country-specific information for Belize.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  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 Belize.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign central authority.

Contact information:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Fax: 202-485-6221
Website: travel.state.gov

The Belize Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation.  The role of the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation is to perform 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:

Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation
West Block, Independence Hill
Belmopan
Telephone: 501-822-2161 or 501-822-2684
E-mail: secretary@humandev.gov.bz
Website: Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Belize, the left-behind parent must submit a Hague application to the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation 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 Belize central authorities.  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.

Return

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 Belize.  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.

Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Belize.  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

Retaining a local private attorney is required in Belize Hague Abduction Convention return cases if the LBP is not present in Belize.  The case will not be filed in court if a LBP lives outside of Belize and does not hire an attorney.  LBPs living in Belize may file a case in court without legal representation.  Local attorneys are not provided by the Belize Central Authority, and the litigant in a Hague Abduction Convention case in Belize is responsible for all legal fees. 

U.S. Embassy Belmopan maintains a list of attorneys 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.

Mediation

Mediation may be offered by the Family Court in Belize free of charge, but this service is limited to individuals with cases already being handled by the court.  Parents interested in mediation outside of a court case should consult a local attorney.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 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.

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. 

 

Last Updated: June 26, 2018

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Belmopan
4 Floral Park Road
Belmopan, Belize
Telephone
+(501) 822-4011
Emergency
+(501) 610-5030
Fax
+(501) 822-4012
Belize Map