International Parental Child Abduction


Legal Information

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.

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 if a person is accused under state law of felony parental kidnapping and flees the jurisdiction.    
  • The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act of 1993, 18 U.S.C. § 1204, makes it is a federal crime to remove a child younger than 16 from the United States, attempt to do so, or retain a child (who has been in the United States) outside 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, authorizes the U.S. to interpret “kidnapping” to include international parental kidnapping for purposes of any extradition treaty to which the United States is a party. A list of countries with which the United States has extradition treaties is at 18 U.S.C. § 3181.

Missing Children Laws Regarding Locating Abducted Children

  • The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. §§ 653654663 allows “authorized persons” to obtain address information from the Federal Parent Locator Service in connection with 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 acquire, collect, classify, and preserve any information which 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

  • Passport issuance to minors (Two Parent Consent Law), 22 U.S.C. 213n and 22 C.F.R. 51.28, requires both parents consent to the issuance of U.S. passports for children under the age of 16, unless the applying parent or legal guardian can establish that consent of both parents is not required.            

U.S. Visas

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

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