Guatemala 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 January 1, 2008.
For information concerning travel to Guatemala, 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 Guatemala.
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.
The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention. In this capacity, the Departmen'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 Guatemala. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's Issues
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
The Guatemalan Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Procuraduría General de la Nación, (PGN). The PGN’s role 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:
To initiate a Hague case for the return of, or access to, a child in Guatemala, the left-behind parent must complete a Hague application and submit it to the PGN. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the PGN, 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 Guatemalan central authorities. After the case is filed and accepted with the PGN, the PGN assigns an attorney to represent the Hague Convention application during the Hague judicial process in Guatemala, at no cost. It is important to note that the attorney does not represent either parent's interests; rather, the attorney represents the Hague Convention application. 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, Guatemala. 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 Guatemala. Once the case has been filed with the Court at the request of the left-behind parent visitation rights will be re-established. 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 a private attorney is not required in order to file Hague Convention applications with courts in Guatemala. The PGN assigns an attorney to represent the Hague Abduction Convention application. While not required, a parent may choose to hire a private attorney to represent his/her interests in the case. If a parent retains a private attorney, the attorney should contact the PGN as soon as possible after the filing of the Hague Abduction Convention application.
The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City maintains a list of attorneys on its website.
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.
Guatemalan law requires that a mediation meeting take place in every civil and family dispute, including Hague Abduction Convention cases, prior to a court’s hearing of the case. During this meeting, the judge informs the interested parties of the benefits of mediation. If the parties decline to pursue mediation, the case proceeds to litigation.
If the parties are interested in mediation, they must secure a private mediator as neither the court nor the GCA provides mediation services.
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:
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.