International Parental Child Abduction

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Country Information

Panama

Panama
Republic of Panama
Exercise normal precautions in Panama. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Exercise normal precautions in Panama. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do not travel to:

  • Parts of the Mosquito Gulf due to crime.
  • Parts of the Darién Region due to crime.

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

If you decide to travel to Panama:

Parts of the "Mosquito Gulf" – Level 4: Do Not Travel

The “Mosquito Gulf” is an extremely remote and inaccessible area along part of the north (Caribbean) coast.

Do not travel within 10 miles of the coastline, between Boca de Rio Chiriqui to Cocle del Norte. Drug trafficking and other illicit activities occur in this area. 

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in this region as U.S. government personnel must obtain prior approval before traveling there and face additional restrictions before such travel is approved.  

Parts of the Darién Region – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Do not travel to the following areas of the Darien:

  • All areas south of Jacque to Manene to Yaviza to Lajas Blancas cities to the Colombian border
  • The city of Lajas Blancas
  • The city of El Salto

Criminal elements and drug and human trafficking networks operate in these areas. Police presence and emergency response are extremely limited.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in these regions as U.S. government personnel must obtain prior approval before traveling there and face additional restrictions before such travel is approved. 

... [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
ALL /
ALL /
Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Panama

Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas,
Building No.783
Clayton, Panama

Telephone: +(507) 317-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(507) 317-5000

Fax: +(507) 317-5278

General Information

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.

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 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.

Contact information:

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone: 1-877-407-4747
Outide the United States or Canada: 202-501-4444
Fax: 202-485-6221
Website
Email: AskCI@state.gov

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
Email: avergara@mire.gob.pa
Website  

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.

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, 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.

Visitation/Access

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.

Mediation

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.

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: February 13, 2015

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Panama
Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas,
Building No.783
Clayton, Panama
Telephone
+(507) 317-5000
Emergency
+(507) 317-5000
Fax
+(507) 317-5278
Panama Map