Using a Foreign Country's Civil Courts

You may want to consider using a country’s civil courts to seek the return of, or access to, your child, if:

  • The Hague Abduction Convention is not available in your case.
  • The Hague Abduction Convention may be available in your case, but you choose not to file a Hague Abduction Convention application.
  • Your Hague Abduction Convention application was rejected or denied.  

If you are interested in using a country’s civil courts, you can

  • Consult an attorney who may help you decide which options to pursue
  • Contact the Office of Children’s Issues in Washington, D.C., at 888‑407‑4747 (from outside the United States and Canada, call 202‑501‑4444).  We can give you information about the country, but we cannot give you legal advice.

There may be challenges to using a foreign country’s civil courts. For example:

  • The legal process may be different than in the United States and in a language that you don’t understand.
  • The foreign court may not recognize U.S. court orders. 
  • The foreign court may decide the child custody case on the basis of its country’s domestic laws, which can be very different from laws in the United States. 

Please remember:

  • The United States cannot interfere with another country's court or law enforcement system.
  • Bring any document issued by a foreign court to the attention of your attorney without delay.

Last Updated: August 30, 2018