If you share a child with an ex-partner or ex-spouse who is not from the United States and are concerned that they may flee the country with your child, then you should learn more about international parental kidnapping and the signs that you need to take action.
In 1993, the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act was passed by congress. This makes international kidnappings into federal offenses. Specifically, the law makes it a crime for a parent to take, or attempt to take, their child out of the United States or to keep them outside of the country when doing so obstructs the other parent’s custodial rights.
People who are convicted of international parental kidnapping crimes may go to prison for up to three years.
The problem with international kidnapping
The greatest issue with international kidnapping is that the IPKCA doesn’t provide any mechanism for having the child returned to the United States once they are gone. Usually, negotiations take place under the Hague Convention, which was established to help with the return of a child to the United States after an abduction. Not all countries participate in this arrangement.
What should you do if you think your child may be at risk?
If you believe your child is at risk, you should reach out to your attorney and the local police as soon as you realize they are missing. If they are still in the United States but you are suspicious of your ex-spouse or partner’s actions, such as suddenly leaving a job or purchasing a passport for your child, report those concerns as soon as possible. You may be able to take action to modify your custody order and secure your child in the United States.