Laws and Regulations

Hague Abduction Convention (Convention)

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.

Federal Laws

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. Additionally, Understanding and Using UCAPA to Prevent Child Abduction, 41 Fam. L. Q. I (2007), is a guide for lawyers and judges on UCAPA. 

Criminal Laws

  • 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. This is applicable if a person is accused under state law of felony parental kidnapping and flees. 
  • The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act of 1993, 18 U.S.C. § 1204, makes it a federal crime to remove a child younger than 16 from the United States. For example, an attempt to remove or retain a child who has been in 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 note, lets the United States interpret “kidnapping” to include international parental kidnapping. This applies to any extradition treaty to which the United States is a party. A list of countries with which the United States has extradition treaties can be found here.

Missing Children Laws Regarding Locating Abducted Children

  • The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. §§ 653654663 allows “authorized persons” to get address information from the Federal Parent Locator Service. This applies to the enforcement or determination of child custody or visitation, and in cases of parental kidnapping. 
  • The Missing Children’s Act28 U.S.C. § 534, requires the Attorney General to receive, collect, classify, and preserve any information that would assist in the location of any missing person
  • The National Child Search Assistance Act42 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

  • Generally, both parents are required to agree to the issuance of a U.S. passport to a child who is under 16 years old, however, the “Two Parent Consent Law” provides some exceptions where consent of both parents is not required. See 22 U.S.C. 213n and 22 C.F.R. 51.28        

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.

Additional Resources

  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children NCMEC publishes additional resources on:

o   International Family Abductions
o   Missing Children

  • Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has information on:

o   Family Child Abductions

Last Updated: July 18, 2024