If you are a parent in Westchester or White Plains, New York, and you are involved in a custody dispute with your ex-spouse who lives in another country, you may be worried about the possibility of international child abduction. It is considered an international child abduction if one parent takes or keeps a child in a foreign country without the consent of the other parent or in violation of a custody order. This can cause emotional and legal problems for both the child and the left-behind parent.
Legal tools to help
Fortunately, there are some legal tools that can help you prevent or resolve international child abduction and child support cases.
- Hague Abduction Convention. The United States and more than 100 other countries are parties to this treaty, which means that they have agreed to cooperate with each other in returning abducted children to their habitual residence.
- Hague Child Support Convention. The United States and more than 40 other countries are parties to this treaty, which means that they have agreed to recognize and enforce each other’s child support orders.
Steps to prevent the abduction
There are some preventive measures that a custodial parent may take in order to prevent abduction:
- first, register your custody order with the United States Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues, which can assist you in preventing or resolving international child abduction cases under the Hague Abduction Convention;
- second, enroll your child in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program, which allows you to receive notification if an application for a United States passport for your child is submitted;
- third, keep the copies of all relevant documents, such as your child’s birth certificate, passport, custody order, travel consent letter and any evidence of your ex-spouse’s abduction plans or threats; and
- finally, keep updated information about your ex-spouse and your child, such as their physical descriptions, photographs, contact details and travel itinerary.
Gather knowledge on legal procedures
Educate yourself about the laws and procedures of the country where your ex-spouse lives or may take your child. You can find useful information on the United States Department of State’s website, which provides country-specific information on international parental child abduction. You can also contact the United States embassy or consulate in that country for assistance.